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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.
The state of California is already warning, that due to the 2-year ongoing drought, this year’s fire season could be worse than last. Overall, more than 6,390 square miles burned in 10,431 wildfires in California in 2020 — it was the largest wildfire season recorded in California’s modern history. Five of the state’s largest wildfires happened last year. […]
Corporations attempting to reduce their carbon footprint in the short run are restoring forests as a way of offsetting the carbon they release into the atmosphere. But some of these initiatives may be less effective than advertised. They are alleged to have inflated the amount of carbon saved from corporate ownership or claimed to protect land that was never under threat of logging.
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