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Protecting Trees, Protecting Our Climate

Ten Reasons to Invest in Reducing Tropical Deforestation

We already know we are putting too much heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air when we burn fossil fuels to generate electricity, fuel our cars, and heat our homes—but by cutting down and burning trees, we are also releasing an astounding amount of the same heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Tropical deforestation accounts for about 10 percent of the world's global warming pollution

Here are just 10 reasons why investing in forest protection initiatives is in the nation's best interest:

1. Global warming is global.
Every molecule of CO2 traps heat in Earth’s atmosphere, regardless of whether the CO2 comes from the tailpipe of a car, the smokestack of a coal-fired power plant, or the burning of a tropical tree. Thus, to address global warming, we need to reduce the CO2 produced everywhere on Earth, not just in the United States.

2. Tropical forest emissions are significant.
About 10 percent of carbon emissions come from tropical deforestation—equivalent to the annual tailpipe emissions of 600 million average U.S. cars. Deforestation is happening at an alarming rate—an acre of tropical forest every second. We cannot address global warming effectively if we ignore 10 percent of the problem.

3. Global warming solutions protect our citizens.
We pay for climate disruption every day in the form of hurricanes, droughts, floods, heat waves, and other dangerous weather events that pose significant health and economic risks. These risks will grow more severe if CO2 emissions continue to increase. Addressing globalwarming today will save lives and money for years to come.

4. Tropical forests are necessary for stabilizing our climate.
Tropical forests not only provide oxygen for us to breathe, but also take CO2 out of the atmosphere and store vastly more carbon than forests in temperate regions (like those in the United States). Losing such forests greatly hampers Earth’s ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

5. Reducing deforestation is cost-effective.
There is little economic value in clearing tropical forests, so the cost of stopping it is small. Economic analyses have shown conclusively that reducing emissions from deforestation is considerably less expensive than reducing emissions from fossil fuel combustion and other industrial sources.

6. Ignoring deforestation is unfair for good businesses.
Timber from tropical deforestation, and particularly illegal deforestation,undercuts landowners who are managing their forests sustainably. By reducing tropical deforestation, we reduce unfair competition with ecologically sound forestry, both in the United States and in tropical countries.

7. Reducing deforestation is inexpensive for the United States.
Analyses from the Union of Concerned Scientists, the European Commission, and the government of Great Britain all agree that for about $20 billion per year, deforestation-related emissions can be cut in half by 2020. The United States would need to contribute only $5 billion—about 20 percent of the total global investment or just 0.1 percent of the annual U.S. budget—to help get the job done.

8. Solutions exist today for reducing deforestation.
Tropical countries are not waiting to reduce deforestation; Brazil, for example, has set a goal of reducing deforestation- related emissions 80 percent by 2020, and is on track to meet its reduction targets during the plan's first three years. Other tropical countries have proposed a "pay for performance" system in which they only receive compensation after they reduce their emissions. Increased investment in forest protection measures can help ensure there are many more success stories like these.

9. Stopping deforestation addresses multiple challenges.
Preserving tropical forests helps protect the millions of plant and animal species—many of which have been invaluable to human medicine—that are indigenous to tropical forests and in danger of extinction. It protects the lands and livelihoods of indigenous and forest peoples. And it provides poor tropical nations with the resources they need for sustainable development without deforestation.

10. Addressing deforestation shows we are serious about our future.
To protect the world that our children will inherit from us, we must act swiftly to reduce global warming emissions both here and abroad, and from all sources. By contributing to reduced tropical deforestation, the United States can reestablish itself as a global leader on a critical international issue and affirm its commitment to preserving Earth's resources for generations to come.


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