Is Deforestation the Root of Our Climate Concerns?
News As we approach the world’s 21st year of international climate change negotiations, it has never been more critical to halt forest loss.
Forests should be our greatest allies in tackling climate change.
Grounding the concern
Trees take carbon dioxide—a climate-changing greenhouse gas—out of the atmosphere, store the carbon and release the oxygen we breathe.
Unfortunately, we are currently losing forests at a rate of approximately 40 football fields every minute. We’ve already cleared about 50 percent of our global forests, and we are in danger of losing another 170 million hectares by 2030 if trends continue.
What’s at stake?
When forests are cleared and burned, all of their stored carbon is released into the air as carbon dioxide (CO2). Deforestation is now one of our largest sources of CO2 emissions, contributing more to climate change than every plane, train, ship and car on the planet combined.
"Deforestation is now one of our largest sources of CO2 emissions–contributing more to climate change than every plane, train, ship and car on the planet combined."
Forests play an extraordinary role in climate change. Protecting threatened forests is therefore one of the most efficient options we have for avoiding catastrophic climate change. Forests also provide countless other benefits, including habitat for wildlife, new medicines and clean water. An estimated 1.6 billion of the world’s poorest rely on forests to survive.
Differences big and small
In an effort to curb this destructive pattern, the United Nations has developed mechanisms for valuing the climate services forests provide, creating financial incentives for tropical countries to leave their trees intact.
While global leaders continue to negotiate a solution, there are non-profit advocacy groups empowering everyday people to become active participants in the fight to save forests and stop climate change. In some cases, this is directly realized in crowd-funding initiatives for forest protection projects around the world.
Even the greenest amongst us has a carbon footprint, but now, more than ever, we can each be part of the solution.