How did Brazil Solve Deforestation?

REDD+ was proposed by developing countries in 2005 as an international strategy by which tropical countries would reduce deforestation (which is responsible for about 10 percent of all global warming pollution) and be compensated by wealthy nations for any resulting economic losses. Two of the strongest initial supporters of the concept were Norway, which pledged $2.5 billion for the effort, and Brazil, which announced a national plan to reduce its deforestation rate 80 percent by 2020 (compared with its average rate over the decade 1996–2005) and later made this commitment part of its national law.

Between 2005 and 2010, Brazil nearly met its goal—a full decade ahead of schedule. Data from 2009–2010 showed that Brazil’s area of deforestation, which averaged 19,508 square kilometers (km2) per year during the baseline decade of 1996–2005, had dropped 67 percent, to just 6,451 km2. UCS analysis of this change, using a formula for converting deforested area to CO2 emissions based on the work of the research institute IMAZON, estimated a reduction in Brazil’s global warming pollution of nearly 1 billion tons.

Norway has committed $1 billion to compensate Brazil for its emissions reductions; the first payment of $110 million was made in 2009. And unlike the case with “offset” funding (whereby corporations in industrialized nations pay for emissions reductions in tropical countries and, in exchange, are permitted to emit more heat-trapping gases in their own countries), there will be no corresponding increase in Norway’s emissions as a result of its commitment to Brazil.

Thus, the cooperation of these two countries has already achieved a reduction in global warming pollution comparable to the reductions that both the United States and the European Union have only pledged to achieve by 2020. This means it is no longer necessary to talk about REDD+ as a proposal or a set of future actions—we can now see how REDD+ works, and that it can be remarkably successful.

What is even more impressive is that Brazil has achieved this success while simultaneously increasing agricultural production and significantly reducing hunger and poverty. During the last decade the country has enjoyed a high rate of GDP growth and exported large amounts of beef and soy despite the world recession. Moreover, through social programs such as Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) and Bolsa Familia (Family Allowances), Brazil has lifted more than 10 million of its citizens out of poverty and substantially lowered rates of hunger and malnutrition.



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