amazon deforestation photo

In October, Brazil’s President announced, “I foresee that by 2020 we will be able to reduce deforestation by 80 percent; in other words, we will emit some 4.8 billion fewer tons of carbon dioxide gas.”

Now, a new article in the December 4 issue of Science, “The End of Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon,” (subs. req’d, abstract below), explains just how modest is the funding needed to beat that goal — “$7 to $18 billion beyond Brazil’s current budget outlays.”  And that could mean “the end of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, which could result in a 2 to 5% reduction in global carbon emissions.”

As the news release from the Woods Hole Research Center explains, Brazil has already made significant reductions in deforestation in that last few years:


According to Daniel Nepstad, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center and the study’s lead author, “market forces and Brazil’s political will are converging in an unprecedented opportunity to end deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon with 80 percent of the forest still standing.”

Brazil has lowered deforestation rates 64 percent since 2005. This remarkable achievement was possible through a government crack-down on illegal activities in the region. It was helped by a retraction of the cattle and soybean industries, and a growing effort to exclude deforesters from the beef and soy markets. The article describes how Brazil could build upon this progress to end forest clearing by the year 2020, and the additional funding that will be required to reach this goal.

The study estimates that $6.5 to $18 billion will be needed from 2010 to 2020 to achieve the end of deforestation, resulting in a 2 to 5 percent reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions. The steps include the support of low-deforestation livelihoods for forest peoples and smallholders; identifying and rewarding responsible cattle ranchers and farmers; improved enforcement of environmental laws; and investments in protected area management. This estimate utilizes a sophisticated economic model of the Amazon region that estimates and maps the value of forgone profits from ranching and soy farming that are associated with forest conservation.

Britaldo Soares-Filho of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, the article’s second author, describes, “Our economic models integrate the best available information on soils, roads, and the costs of production to capture the economic logic of the Amazon’s drivers of deforestation.”

Here is the abstract of the policy brief in Science:

Brazil has two major opportunities to end the clearing of its Amazon forest and to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions substantially. The first is its formal announcement within United Nations climate treaty negotiations in 2008 of an Amazon deforestation reduction target, which prompted Norway to commit $1 billion if it sustains progress toward this target. The second is a widespread marketplace transition within the beef and soy industries, the main drivers of deforestation, to exclude Amazon deforesters from their supply chains. According to our analysis, these recent developments finally make feasible the end of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, which could result in a 2 to 5% reduction in global carbon emissions. The $7 to $18 billion beyond Brazil’s current budget outlays that may be needed to stop the clearing [a range intermediate to previous cost estimates] could be provided by the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) mechanism for compensating deforestation reduction that is under negotiation within the UN climate treaty (5), or by payments for tropical forest carbon credits under a U.S. cap-and-trade system.

The authors represent WHRC, “Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia (IPAM), Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Aliança da Terra, Environmental Defense Fund, University of Florida, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, and the Universidade Federal do Pará.”

Paulo Moutinho, leader of IPAM’s climate change program, in Brazil, and a scientist at the WHRC, states, “Brazil was, for many years, the country that said that rich nations must lead in developing a solution to climate change. Now, Brazil is showing that leadership.”

Now we mainly need one other country to show leadership….

h/t TH