Amazon rainforest emitting more carbon than it absorbs – study

Over 10,000 plants and animal species risk extinction due to destruction of the area

Cutting deforestation and forest degradation to zero in less than a decade ‘is critical’, report says.  Photograph: Victor Moriyama/New York Times

Cutting deforestation and forest degradation to zero in less than a decade ‘is critical’, report says. Photograph: Victor Moriyama/New York Times

 

Some parts of the Amazon rainforest are now emitting more carbon than they absorb, according to a study published on Wednesday that provides a troubling sign for the fight against climate change.

Lead author Luciana Gatti, a scientist at Brazil’s Inpe space research agency, suggests the increased carbon emissions in southeastern Amazonia – where deforestation is fierce – is not only the result of fires and direct destruction, but also due to rising tree mortality as severe drought and higher temperatures become more common.

The study was published in the journal Nature on the same day the European Commission unveiled its plan to radically reduce CO2 emissions in Europe.

In Brazil, deforestation reached a 12-year high last year. Photograph: Victor Moriyama/New York Times
Deforestation reached a 12-year high last year in Brazil. Photograph: Victor Moriyama/New York Times

Separate research released on Wednesday shows that more than 10,000 species of plants and animals are at high risk of extinction due to the destruction of the Amazon – 35 per cent of which has already been deforested or degraded.

Produced by the Science Panel for the Amazon – a coalition of 200 scientists – the report says cutting deforestation and forest degradation to zero in less than a decade “is critical”, given the soil and vegetation of the Amazon hold about 200 billion tonnes of carbon, more than five times the whole world’s annual CO2 emissions.

In Brazil, deforestation has surged since right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019, reaching a 12-year high last year and drawing international outcry from foreign governments and the public. – Reuters