Monday, June 9, 2014

Brazil leads the world in reducing carbon emissions

EurekAlert: As the world turns its attention to Brazil with the opening of the World Cup this month, many people around the globe know the country's soccer fame, but few realize that it is the world's leader in reducing carbon emissions. A new study published in Science magazine provides the first in-depth analysis of how Brazil reached this global-leader status and managed to increase its agriculture production at the same time.

"Brazil is known as a leading favorite to win the World Cup, but they also lead the world in mitigating climate change," says the study's lead author, Daniel Nepstad who heads the Earth Innovation Institute and is a lead author of the recent IPCC report.

Since 2004, farmers and ranchers in Brazil have spared over 86,000 square kilometers of rainforests, close to 14.3 million soccer fields, from clear-cutting. Saving these forests amounts to a 70% decline in deforestation and 3.2 billion tons of CO2 kept out of the atmosphere. The decline in deforestation in 2013 alone represented a 1.5% reduction in global emissions for that year.

In this new study, a group of 17 scientists and economists from the US and South America set out to understand what drove this change. They found that a combination of bold public policies, market rejection of deforesting farmers, and an increase in protected areas curbed clear-cutting, while still allowing the country's soy and beef production to grow.

"There is an urge to find a silver bullet hiding in all the different deforestation efforts. But the truth is that the government can't claim this win alone, nor can Greenpeace or responsible companies. It's the mixture of interventions that worked," says co-author Toby McGrath....

Satellite image of deforestation in Brazil

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