Tropical Deforestation Emissions May Be Lower Than We Think, Maybe

International Center for Tropical Agriculture/CC BY-SA 2.0

A new analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from tropical deforestation comes up with a significantly lower figure than we're used to referencing. The analysis, published in Science finds that chopping down trees in the tropics from 2000-2005 was just 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with over half of that coming from Brazil and Indonesia.

Why the revised figures (previous estimates were double these ones)?

The 10% figure was derived, not from using data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization as is commonly done, but using satellite data calibrated with field studies.

But there are a couple serious caveats and questions.

Mongabay sums up the 'buts':

The study does not give a complete picture of emissions from land use. It does not account for carbon sequestered by forest regrowth or carbon emissions from forest degradation, which in some years can can rival those from deforestation. The Science paper also does not include emissions from land use change in temperate regions.

The results of the paper contrast sharply with another study published earlier this year in Nature Climate Change. That paper, authored by Alessandro Baccini and colleagues, also used high resolution satellite imagery but relied on a different methodology. Their study period covered 2000-2010.

The Nature Climate Change study put deforestation emissions roughly three quarters higher than this latest study.

Lot's more analysis and charts breaking down where that deforestation is happening: Mongabay

Tags: Carbon Emissions | Deforestation