Washington-based Center for Global Development predicts 289m hectares (714m acres) of tropical forests will be felled by 2050 based on current trends
Tropical forests covering an area nearly the size of India are set to be destroyed in the next 35 years, a faster rate of deforestation than previously thought, a study warned on Monday.
The Washington-based Center for Global Development, using satellite imagery and data from 100 countries, predicted 289m hectares (714m acres) of tropical forests would be felled by 2050, with dangerous implications for accelerating climate change, the study said.
“Reducing tropical deforestation is a cheap way to fight climate change,” said environmental economist Jonah Busch. He recommended taxing carbon emissions to push countries to protect their forests.
UN climate change experts have estimated the world can burn no more than 1tn tonnes of carbon in order to keep global temperature rises below two degrees – the maximum possible increase to avert catastrophic climate change.
If trends continued the amount of carbon burned as a result of clearing tropical forests was equal to roughly one-sixth of the entire global carbon dioxide allotment, Busch said.
“The biggest driver of tropical deforestation by far is industrial agriculture to produce globally traded commodities including soy and palm oil.”
The study predicted the rate of deforestation would climb through 2020 and 2030 and accelerate around the year 2040 if changes were not made.
There were some success stories where countries reduced tropical deforestation without compromising economic growth or food production, the study said. Brazil decreased deforestation in the Amazon rainforest by 80% over a decade through the use of satellite monitoring and increased law enforcement, even as cattle and soy production rose.