Living Forests Report - Climate & Forests

Forests and climate are intrinsically linked: forest loss and degradation are both a cause and an effect of the changing climate.

WWF's Living Forests Report has introduced four future scenarios to explore the feasibility and implications of stopping runaway deforestation and degradation of the world’s remaining natural forest. In chapter three of the report, we look specifically at the scenarios’ consequences for the climate and future carbon emissions.

Deforestation and forest degradation make up around 20 per cent of CO2 emissions cause by people. Climate change damages forests, drying out tropical rainforests and increasing fire damage in boreal forests. This has a devastating impact on forest biodiversity and on the people who rely upon forests for their livelihoods and well-being.

Reducing forest loss helps people and ecosystems by cutting greenhouse gas emissions, sequestering carbon, preserving ecosystems services and maintaining intact, functioning forests that have the best chance of withstanding and adapting to climate change.
Valuing Forests

REDD+ – reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, and conserving, sustainably managing and enhancing forest carbon stocks – aims to make tropical forests more valuable standing than cut down. By providing financial incentives to developing countries to maintain their forests, REDD+ has the potential to mitigate climate change, conserve biodiversity and reduce poverty. It is also an essential component of WWF’s goal of Zero Net Deforestation and Forest Degradation (ZNDD) by 2020.

Yet, international discussions on REDD+ are complex and support is fragmented, with a huge funding gap from 2012 to 2020. REDD+ is an unmissable opportunity for the planet, people and nature, but it urgently needs:

An inspiring vision and target: A clear, ambitious and measurable global target for reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation is a vital step toward limiting warming to well below 2°C. WWF’s targets for 2020 – ZNDD and no net greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation – provide a framework for countries to formulate ambitious national targets and action.

Our Living Forests Model shows it is possible to achieve ZNDD by 2020 – and reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation to near zero – while providing humanity’s food and fuel and protecting biodiversity. REDD+ should include area-based targets for eliminating deforestation, as targets that are wholly based on emissions will logically lead to a focus on high-carbon forests at the expense of extensive, low-carbon forests that are nevertheless vital for biodiversity and ecosystem services.

 / ©: WWF
REDD+ aims to make forests more valuable standing than cut down.
© WWF
New, adequate and predictable financing, now: ZNDD can only be achieved with a major and immediate scaling up of investments in maintaining tropical forests. REDD+ is the most feasible vehicle to encourage and channel the necessary public and private finance to this effort. Though the sums needed appear large, delaying action will greatly increase the long-term costs of coping with climate change.

Estimates on REDD+ financing needs vary, but suggest at least US$42 billion a year will be needed by 2020: existing pledges up to 2012 stand at just US$7 billion. In addition to national and international aid, governments need to look at innovative funding sources, such as forest bonds, financial transaction taxes and climate mitigation funding from the international aviation and shipping industries. A rapid and substantial increase in private investments is also needed.
 / ©: WWF
REDD+ requires adequate, predictable funding.
© WWF
It is time to act

Achieving ZNDD is a key part of tackling climate change by reducing CO2 emissions. The Living Forests Model projects that ZNDD by 2020 is technically feasible; REDD+ will help make this target realistic.

We must act now to halt deforestation, or the opportunity to keep global temperature rise below 2oC will be lost forever.
 / ©: WWF
The time to invest in REDD+ is now!
© WWF

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