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Forests and global warming mitigation in Brazil: opportunities in the Brazilian forest sector for responses to global warming under the clean development mechanism

Biomass & Bioenergy 16(3): 171-189
Forests and global warming mitigation in Brazil: opportunities in the Brazilian forest sector for responses to global warming under the clean development mechanism
The Kyoto Protocol created global warming response opportunities through the clean development mechanism that allow countries like Brazil to receive investments from companies and governments wishing to offset their emissions of greenhouse gases. Brazil has a special place in strategies for combating global warming because its vast areas of tropical forest represent a potentially large source of emissions if deforested. A number of issues need to be settled to properly assign credit for carbon in the types of options presented by the Brazilian forest sector. These include definition of the units of carbon (permanent sequestration versus carbon-ton-years, the latter being most appropriate for forest options), the means of crediting forest reserve establishment, adoption of discounting or other time-preference weighting for carbon, definition of the accounting method (avoided emissions versus stock maintenance), and mechanisms to allow program contributions to be counted, rather than restricting consideration to free-standing projects. Silvicultural plantations offer opportunities for carbon benefits, but these depend heavily on the end use of the products. Plantations for charcoal have the greatest carbon benefits, but have high social impacts in the Brazilian context. Plantations also inherently compete with deforestation reduction options for funds. Forest management has been proposed as a global warming response option, but the assignment of any value to time makes this unattractive in terms of carbon benefits. However, reduced-impact logging can substantially reduce emissions over those from traditional logging practices. Slowing deforestation is the major opportunity offered by Brazil. Slowing deforestation will require understanding its causes and creating functional models capable of generating land-use change scenarios with and without different policy changes and other activities. Brazil already has a number of programs designed to slow deforestation, but the continued rapid loss of forest highlights the vast gulf that exists between the magnitude of the problem and the efforts to address it. The ups and downs of Brazil's deforestation rate have so far had little to do with deliberate programs to control or influence the process. Achieving this control will require a major effort in which contributions from the private sector will be needed. Mechanisms are needed to make contributions to such programs eligible for carbon credit.

Accession: 003145777

DOI: 10.1016/s0961-9534(98)00071-3

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