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December 3, 2018

COP24 | Why protecting rainforest needs to be top of the agenda.


COP24 is taking place in Poland this week. 198 member countries are discussing the future implications of climate change and what action we can take.

Global catastrophe is not going to be averted by decisions made in a conference centre in Poland. But with charities, governments and the global community working together, there’s a chance for people power to come into force.

“We are clearly the last generation that can change the course of climate change.” – Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank.

When it comes to the climate, empowering people to protect their rainforest is a vital step. Here’s why rainforest conservation needs to be part of the conversation, at COP24 and beyond.

Champion the rainforest

Preventing Hothouse Earth

Preventing Hothouse Earth

If you’re looking for just one urgent reason to protect forest, this is it. We have a limited time before the rainforest actually turns on us. A global temperature rise of only 2ºC means risking what scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions. When this happens, the Arctic Sea ice and tropical rainforests lose their ability to store carbon. Instead they start to release it.

Supercharged Carbon Storage

Supercharged Carbon Storage

An acre of rainforest stores a huge 260 tonnes of carbon. That’s about the amount that one American produces in 13 years. In just the last two years, deforestation has released CO2 equal to 85 million cars’ lifetime emissions. Amazingly, the more large mammals found in tropical forests, the more carbon is stored. It’s vital to have large areas of biodiverse rainforest to keep carbon locked in.

Slash and Burn

Slash and Burn

Deforestation in small patches (about 1 hectare) is having the biggest impact. Slash and burn removes forest cover to plant crops, and leaves soil fertility quickly depleted. This gives farmers little choice but to move onto another patch. These small areas add up: fires in the Amazon released the same amount of carbon as the whole of Italy last year.

The Heart of the Water Cycle

The Heart of the Water Cycle

Rainforests drive the flow of water at a global level. They pump air and water around the world, circulating water vapour, and feeding rivers that eventually take water back to the oceans. The water that a single tree transpires daily has a cooling effect equivalent to two domestic air conditioners. Two-thirds of the Amazon gets less rainfall now than in 2000. That not only means less water to circulate within the Amazon basin, but less that can then be circulated globally.

Reflecting Heat

Reflecting Heat

Just like the polar ice caps, the mature canopy cover of tropical rainforests reflect heat back into space and keeps the planet cool. This is called the albedo effect, with rainforests acting as a giant reflective mirror. If we break these essential mirrors around the tropics, it won’t just be seven years bad luck, it will change the way we live worldwide.

Rainforest Communities

Rainforest Communities

Indigenous communities worldwide protect a fifth of Earth’s surface and 80 percent of biodiversity on the planet. This makes them powerful stakeholders when responding to climate change challenges. But the power of indigenous-led conservation is too often ignored.

Valuable traditional knowledge needs to be recognised in order to tackle the adverse impacts of climate change. Empowered rainforest communities are the most powerful conservation force we have.

Earth Overshoot Day. The IPCC report. Elections in Brazil. COP24. Everything points to rainforest being key in the fight against climate change. We now have the knowledge to protect the future of our planet.

These are all important. But Cool Earth knows that it’s not boardrooms that affect real change, it’s with rainforest communities. It’s with people like Gellie in Papua New Guinea taking a stand against unsustainable palm oil, helping educate rainforest communities and create choice. And it’s with people like you, championing the rainforest, our most effective carbon store and lifeline in mitigating global carbon emissions.

Meet Gellie, Climate Champion

2018 has been a year of conversation, change and championing those who need our help. Thank you for taking action with Cool Earth

COP24 | Why protecting rainforest needs to be top of the agenda.

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