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Emissions from deforestation slow

A dip in forest clearing in Brazil combined with rising levels of industrial emissions have reduced the share of carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation to around 9 percent, according to research published last month in Nature Geoscience.

Scientists with the collaborative Global Carbon Project estimate carbon emissions from deforestation and other land-use change (LUC) averaged 880 million tons (3.3 billion tones CO2) per year in the 2006-2010 period, down from 1.3 billion tons per year from 2000-2005. Emissions from fossil fuels use and cement production averaged 8.4 billion tons per year in 2008 and 2009.

Global CO2 emissions since 1997 from fossil fuel and cement production (a) and LUC (b). Fossil fuel CO2 emissions were based on United Nations Energy Statistics to 2007, and on BP energy data from 2007 onwards. Cement CO2 emissions are from the US Geological Survey. LUC CO2 emissions were based on the revised statistics of the Food and Agricultural Organization. Projections for 2010 are included in red. Images and caption courtesy of Friedlingstein et al. 2010.

The new analysis includes the vast majority of CO2 emissions, but doesn’t account for carbon emissions from methane and other greenhouse gas emissions.

The research shows the share of emissions from deforestation are indeed falling, but not to the extent claimed in a recent New Scientist article written by Fred Pearce.

Pearce’s article, “Deforestation not so important for climate change,” said an unpublished analysis by Winrock International showed global emissions from deforestation are currently 6-8 percent. But Winrock and other carbon researchers have since written to New Scientist with a clarification.

Friedlingstein et al. Update on CO2 emissions. Nature Geoscience Published online: 21 November 2010.

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