Carbon trading market could help save rainforests

Rainforests are worth far more intact, acting as carbon sinks, than if they’re cleared for farmland or pasture, the World Bank said yesterday, and therefore countries should be compensated for keeping trees standing. Enter: the global carbon market, where polluters must pay to offset excessive carbon dioxide emissions. The World Bank’s Kenneth Chomitz explains that a hypothetical deforested pasture may be worth $300, while the carbon offset provided by a rainforest could be worth $7,500. (Maintaining habitat for endangered wildlife: priceless.) “Compensation for avoiding deforestation could help developing countries to improve forest governance and boost rural incomes, while helping the world at large to mitigate climate change more vigorously,” says World Bank economist Francois Bourguignon. It’s an idea whose time has come: The planet’s forests are disappearing at a rate of 5 percent every decade, and the World Bank estimates that deforestation contributes up to 20 percent of global CO2 emissions.