The fate of our climate is intrinsically tied to the fate of our natural ecosystems. Earth’s forests soak up between 30 and 40 percent of global carbon emissions each year. Oceans absorb another quarter. In the United States, specifically, forests, grasslands, and soils already sequester more than half the amount of carbon that all cars and trucks on US roads emit.
Protecting these carbon-rich ecosystems isn’t optional; it’s a prerequisite for ensuring a habitable Earth for future generations.
We have a long way to go. Deforestation is responsible for around 15 percent of annual CO2 emissions around the world, reducing a significant portion of forests’ carbon storage. And the broader “land use” sector, which includes agriculture, is responsible for roughly 25 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.
While the challenge of cutting those numbers is daunting, the potential climate benefits are huge. Keeping trees standing prevents emissions from their destruction while at the same time bolstering the planet’s storage capacity for carbon, making forests a uniquely powerful weapon against climate change. For example, scientists estimate that halting and reversing tropical deforestation could carry us a quarter of the way toward avoiding catastrophic global warming.Forest Trends’ work on emissions cuts across traditional boundaries to find practical, real-world solutions by bringing new allies to the table. Specifically, we: