Tropical deforestation is responsible for roughly 12 percent of global carbon pollution each year. In other words, what happens in the tropics affects all Californians: our water, air and the health of our plant and animal life. Conversely, while disturbed forests are a source of emissions, they also absorb close to 20 percent of all carbon emitted every year. When conserved, these forests will continue to remove additional carbon from the atmosphere.
California is at risk from the effects of global deforestation. The Journal of Climate reports that total deforestation in the Amazon could result in a 50 percent reduction in the Sierra Nevada snowpack, a crucial source of water for the state’s residents. The authors caution that stripping the Amazon rainforest could result in “water and food shortages, and a greater risk of forest fires.”
Just as conservation and protection of California’s forests are essential to achieving the state’s ambitious climate goals, tropical rainforests are a critical part of the global climate solution. California is actively developing state and provincial frameworks to reduce tropical deforestation; the state has initiated partnerships with China, Mexico, Peru and Chile among others to collaborate on climate change solutions, but there is much more we can do to promote low carbon development that will keep tropical forests standing and indigenous communities thriving.
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