Comparison of nationally reported emissions data from tree cover loss and independent data for Brazil

Authors: David Gibbs*, World Resources Institute
Topics: Environmental Science, Global Change, Anthropocene
Keywords: forests, emissions, Brazil, greenhouse gases
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Buchanan, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As part of the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, countries set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with progress towards them to be self-monitored. Some countries, such as Brazil, included goals for reducing emissions from deforestation. In August 2018, the Brazilian government announced that Brazil had achieved its goals for emissions reductions from deforestation in the Amazon two years ahead of schedule. While Brazil’s satellite system for monitoring deforestation (PRODES) is well-established, it can be useful to compare its output to independent data when making major policy decisions. We calculated annual tree cover loss and emissions using the University of Maryland’s Global Forest Change (GFC) data and the Woods Hole Research Center forest biomass data. We applied the same criteria to GFC loss for 2001 to 2017 as Brazil uses for its official statistics, such as not including emissions from tree loss due to fire and only including primary forest. We found that between 2001 and 2017 Brazil’s estimate of deforested area was over twice as large as the modified GFC estimate (21 million hectares vs. 8.2 million hectares, respectively), although the two estimates were more similar from 2009 onwards. Furthermore, the modified GFC estimate of deforestation was below the goal set in the National Plan on Climate Change for most years between 2007 and 2017. Deforestation using modified GFC data corresponded to approximately 3400 megatonnes CO2 emitted from deforestation between 2001 and 2017. We are currently assessing how this compares with Brazil’s emissions goals.

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