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Why This Matters: Tropical forests are one of the world’s largest carbon sinks and one of the most quickly deteriorating. Tropical forests boast some of the richest biodiversity on earth, but their destruction contributes to a biodiversity collapse. Tropical forests also hold an estimated 250 billion tons of carbon, the equivalent of 90 years’ worth of the world’s current carbon emissions. Deforestation not only releases millions of tons of carbon into the air, slashing our carbon budget, but it also damages the ability of forest systems to sequester carbon in the future.
Does Money Grow on Trees?
Although similar plans have been attempted before, this new initiative is unique because it brings private capital to the table, something many lower-income nations have been vying for on the international stage. Under the plan, countries, states, and provinces will make commitments to protect forests and submit annual or biannual results documenting emissions reductions. Satellite imaging will verify these submissions, and the coalition will then pay governments at least $10 per ton of reduced carbon dioxide. Companies including Amazon, Nestlé, Unilever, and Salesforce, and coalition governments will contribute to a pool of money that will be used for these incentives. The coalition has also promised to make the rights and sovereignty of Indigenous and forest communities a priority.
Protecting these forests may seem like a no-brainer, but some world leaders have been at odds over their conservation. President Biden previously suggested offering financial incentives to Brazil if the country made efforts to protect the Amazon, but Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was insulted by the idea. Many tropical nations are also lower-income and rely on the export of natural resources, like lumber, to sustain their economy and recover from the pandemic. But this deforestation leaves Indigenous and forest communities with even fewer resources and more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Still, experts believe that this global partnership between the public and private sectors can get the job done. “The LEAF Coalition is a groundbreaking example of the scale and type of collaboration that is needed to fight the climate crisis and achieve net-zero emissions globally by 2050,” said White House Special Presidential Climate Envoy John Kerry.
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Earlier this year, Ecuador’s new President Guillermo Lasso issued decrees to expand oil and mining projects in the Amazon. Indigenous communities from the country’s rainforest are now suing the government in an effort to stop these projects, calling them a “policy of death,” according to reporting by Reuters. Community […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer The giant sequoia trees in California’s Sequoia National Park are over 1,000 years old and could live another 2,000 years, but climate change-fueled fires are killing them. The trees can usually withstand the flames, but the intensity of recent fires has been overpowering. Last year’s Castle Fire killed up […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor As wildfires and deforestation grip the Amazon rainforest, Indigenous communities are urging world governments to pledge to protect 80% of the forest by 2025. The groups launched their campaign at a biodiversity conference in France, where experts from around the world are laying the groundwork for the UN’s delayed […]
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