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Climate protocol may save Amazon region

28.05.2004


If Brazil gets a climate protocol, like the Kyoto Protocol for the rich countries, it will be possible to create an incentive for the country to reduce the deforestation of the Amazon region. The Kyoto Protocol targets a reduction of emissions of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases.



In a new study, Martin Persson, in collaboration with Christian Azar, at the Section for Physical Resource Theory, Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, has examined how to deal with emissions of carbon dioxide from deforestation in the Amazon in a future international climate agreement, after Kyoto.

“An international climate agreement can create pressure to reduce deforestation in the Amazon region, but it is important that emissions from deforestation be included in a way that does not undermine work to reduce emissions in the energy sector,” says Martin Persson.


A few weeks ago it was reported that the annual rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon had increased for the second year in a row, a record 23,750 km2, representing an area three quarters the size of Belgium.

This cutting of forests produces emissions of carbon dioxide corresponding to ten times Sweden’s annual emissions of greenhouse gases or a few percent of the world’s aggregate emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels.

However, because of the many factors contributing to deforestation and problems like corruption and limited resources, Brazil has historically found it difficult to control deforestation.

This means that it is extremely difficult to predict what effect a climate objective would have on deforestation in practice and will make it difficult for Brazil to accept strong demands for reductions in emissions from deforestation.

The study estimates that the uncertainties in future emissions from deforestation in the Amazon are so great that if an excessively high emissions target is set for Brazil, the country will be able to sell surplus emissions rights on the world market corresponding to the entire reduction required of all EU countries by the Kyoto Protocol. This would thereby risk the cancellation of emissions reductions from the combustion of fossil fuels in the rest of the world and a delay in the necessary transformation of the world’s energy systems.

As an alternative, Martin Persson and Christian Azar suggest that Amazon emissions be included, but that they be treated differently from emissions in the energy sector. By differentiating these emissions from each other, the problems mentioned above can be dealt with and incentives can be put in place for a reduction of emissions from deforestation.

The study Brazil beyond Kyoto­-Opportunities and Problems in Including Deforestation in the Tropics in a Future Period of Commitments was conducted by Martin Persson, doctoral student, and Professor Christian Azar at the Section for Physical Resource Theory, Chalmers, as part of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency’s governmental commission “After Kyoto.” The commission is to be submitted to the Swedish government.

Jorun Fahle | alfa
Further information:
http://www.naturvardsverket.se

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