Tropical Forest Loss Generated 2.7 Gigatonnes of Carbon Pollution in 2022 - Common Dreams

Despite world leaders’ pledge to halt and reverse global deforestation by 2030, the tropics lost 10% more primary forest in 2022 than in 2021.

That’s the latest update from the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Global Forest Watch, released Tuesday, which found that tropical forests had lost 4.1 million hectares, generating as much carbon dioxide as India emits from fossil fuels in a year at 2.7 gigatonnes.

At the COP26 U.N. climate conference in Glasgow in 2021, 145 nations signed the “Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use” that included a promise to work “collectively to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 while delivering sustainable development and promoting an inclusive rural transformation.”

The analysis focuses on tropical forests because more than 96% of human-caused deforestation takes place there and because primary tropical rainforests are especially important for protecting biodiversity and regulating both the global climate and local temperature and weather patterns—temperatures near newly deforested areas can increase by twice the amount forced upward by the climate crisis alone.

The update found that the world lost an area of these essential forests the size of Switzerland at a rate of 11 soccer fields per minute

In some instances, it is possible that policy shifts have not had the time to take root and sprout in the data. Brazil, for example, led the world for deforestation at 43% of the world total. It saw 15% more forest loss in 2022 than 2021 and the highest level of non-fire-caused tree loss since 2005. [Brazil’s new president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has since significantly curbed deforestation and has promised to end deforestation by 2030.]

Other countries that saw noticeable deforestation in 2022 were [the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)] and Bolivia, which lost the second and third most after Brazil respectively. In DRC, forest loss is complicated and often driven by poverty as people clear forest for charcoal and subsistence farming.

Ghana broke records with its deforestation rates, with forest loss increasing in the country by 71%, the highest increase of any nation. The losses were mostly in protected areas and linked to cocoa farming, gold mining, and fires.

In Indonesia, which led the way for reducing forest loss, the government has promised that its land use will generate a net carbon sink by 2030 and banned new logging in palm oil plantations in 2019, according to the report and BBC News. In Malaysia, rates of forest loss have also stayed low in recent years, with a majority of the palm oil industry signing on to No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation (NDPE) commitments.

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Common Dreams

Events: 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) 

Locations: India Glasgow Switzerland Brazil Democratic Republic of the Congo Bolivia Ghana Indonesia Malaysia 

Organizations: World Resources Institute BBC News 

People: Lula da Silva 

Tags: Deforestation Farming Fire Mining Palm Oil No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE) Climate Change 

Type: Headlines