Forests are the lungs of the Earth. They breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. Forests help keep our air clean and play a critical role in fighting climate change.
When rainforests are bulldozed and burned to make way for new agriculture, all of that carbon is released into our atmosphere and accelerates global warming. The destruction and degradation of tropical forests accounts for up to 20% of the world’s carbon emissions — more than all the world’s cars, trucks, ships and planes combined.
But we know that agricultural production can thrive without cutting down any more forests. Researchers have identified 309 million acres of land suitable for new farmland around the world – land that wouldn’t come at the expense of tropical forests. Shifting agriculture away from forests to these areas would avoid 13 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, roughly equivalent to the amount released annually by all the world’s coal-fired power plants. Keeping this pollution out of the atmosphere is essential to stopping climate change.
That’s why Forest Heroes and our partners have worked to convince many of the world’s largest agribusinesses and consumer brands to take action on climate change by eliminating deforestation from their supply chains. These leading companies are promising not to source products like palm oil from the clearing of High Carbon Stock forests, or carbon-rich peatlands of any depth.
The potential impact of these commitments is enormous. For example, in December 2013 the world’s biggest palm oil trader agreed to adopt deforestation and peat-free sourcing policies. Analysis shows that the commitment by Wilmar International could by itself eliminate more than 1.5 gigatons of CO2 emissions total by 2020, which is roughly equivalent to the annual emissions of 316 million cars on the road. This is a hugely important step for combatting climate change, but we must do more.
The impacts of climate change could be truly catastrophic for communities and ecosystems around the world. To act on climate, we must do more to protect and restore the world’s forests: take action with us here today.