Argument: Reforestation sequesters C02 and helps reverse global warming

Issue Report: Reforestation as a solution to global warming


Adrian Higgins. “A New Leaf on Life”. Washington Post. 8 May 2008 – Today we know that deforestation also contributes to another environmental danger that will affect us economically very soon—global warming. Forests and forest soils serve as a sink for carbon. Deforestation generally leads to the release of this carbon into the atmosphere as CO2, contributing to global warming. Next to the burning of fossil fuels (which represent the stored carbon of prehistoric forests) deforestation may be the top contributor to increasing atmospheric CO2. Conversely, reforestation re-sequesters carbon from the atmosphere, mitigating global warming. This is not 100% true due to other factors, but as a first approximation, and in combination with the factors mentioned above, reforestation and preservation of forests is almost ALWAYS a good idea and almost always is of economic benefit in the long run.

Adrian Higgins. “A New Leaf on Life”. Washington Post. 8 May 2008 – Increasing global reforestation between now and the year 2000 by an area nearly twice the size of Texas could not only return the world’s supply of wood for fuel and industry to a sustainable level, but also help stabilize watersheds and highly erodable, wind-prone areas, according to Sandra Postel and Lori Heise of the Washington, D.C.-based Worldwatch Institute. A less obvious benefit would be the capture and storage of considerable carbon, which could reduce the rate of global warming. Carbon emitted by fossil-fuel burning and deforestation–largely as carbon dioxide (CO.sub.2)–has been accumulating in earth’s atmosphere. A “greenhouse” gas, atmospheric carbon dioxide can contribute to climate warming. But in “Reforesting the Earth,” a report published last week, Postel and Heise present “rough calculations” that suggest that preserving tropical forests and planting new trees could play “a significant role” in slowing the CO.sub.2 buildup.

Massimo Tavoni, Brent Sohngen, Valentina Bosetti. “Forestry and the carbon market response to stabilize climate” – Results show that forestry is an important abatement option, and that its inclusion into an international policy agreement can have a profound effect on the global costs of a climate policy. In particular, we find that the total costs of the forestry program are $1.1 trillion (USD) and the benefits, in terms of additional gross world product relative to meeting the same carbon constraint without forestry, are $3.0 trillion. Forest sequestration actions in the first half of the century, mainly from avoiding deforestation, could contribute 1/3 of total abatement effort, and could provide additional benefits throughout the entire century. Forest sinks have the potential to reduce the price of traded carbon permits, and the overall cost of the policy in terms of income losses, by half. However, in meeting the emissions reductions target, forestry crowds out some of the abatement in the energy sector for the first 10 – 20 years. For example, deployment of low carbon technologies in the energy sector such as carbon capture and sequestration and nuclear power are postponed by 10 – 20 years. Policy induced technological change in clean technologies such as renewables power generation is also reduced. Policy makers should consider developing targeted policies to help achieve the technological advancement to hedge against unknown risks, but they can make substantial headway towards achieving climate stabilization now with forest carbon sequestration.

“Reforestation”. Carbon – “Of the three main types of offsets, reforestation is the only one that actually removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and puts it somewhere else, i.e., into the mass of a live, growing forest. Also, scientists know that deforestation is responsible for about 25% of climate change, making reforestation a vital part of reducing emissions while providing time to transition to a clean energy economy.”