Brazil cuts emissions from deforestation two years ahead of schedule

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Brazil has already hit its targets for emissions from deforestation, according to the government.

The Environment Ministry announced yesterday that overall emissions caused by deforestation in the Amazon rainforest were down by 610 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. This is ahead of its 2020 target of 564 million tonnes.

Brazil’s stewardship of the Amazon, 60 percent of which is contained within its borders, is an important weapon in the fight against climate change. The huge number of trees can absorb massive amounts of carbon dioxide, preventing them from reaching the Earth’s atmosphere.

High levels of deforestation in South America over the past few decades, particularly Brazil, threatens this progress and also destroys biodiversity.

In addition, Brazil managed to reduce emissions in the Cerrado savanna by 170 million tonnes compared to a target of 140 million. The tropical region gets far less attention than the Amazon, but it covers 20 per cent of the country and is the largest in South America.

“The policy message is that we can and should remain in the Paris Agreement; it is possible to effectively implement the commitments that have been made,” said climate minister Thiago Mendes, according to the Reuters news agency.

Despite this progress, data released from the Global Forest Watch in June showed that a near-record amount of tree cover was lost in 2017. 29.4 million hectares disappeared over the world, the equivalent of the size of Italy. Significant forest fires in Brazil attributed to high rates of tree lost in the past year.

“The main reason tropical forests are disappearing is not a mystery – vast areas continue to be cleared for soy, beef, palm oil, timber, and other globally traded commodities,” commented Frances Seymour of the World Resources Institute at the time. “Much of this clearing is illegal and linked to corruption.”

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