August 10, 2018 / 1:11 AM / 4 months ago

Brazil cuts deforestation emissions below 2020 targets

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the Amazon rainforest at the Bom Futuro National Forest near Rio Pardo in Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil, September 3, 2015. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil cut its greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation in 2017 to levels below its internationally agreed 2020 climate change targets, the country’s Environment Ministry said on Thursday.

Brazil reduced its emission from deforestation in the Amazon rainforest by 610 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), compared to its 2020 target of 564 million tonnes. In the Cerrado savanna, emissions were reduced 170 million tonnes of carbon dioxide versus a target of 104 million tonnes.

The Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest, and the Cerrado, South America’s biggest savanna, soak up vast amounts of carbon dioxide and their preservation is seen as vital to the fight against climate change.

But destruction of the forest releases large quantities of CO2, one of the main greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. Large-scale Amazon deforestation has made Brazil one of the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters, due to fires and the spread of agriculture and cattle ranching.

The 2020 emission goals were set out in the 2009 Copenhagen Accord to combat climate change. Under the more ambitious Paris Agreement in 2015 on climate change, Brazil has set goals for further steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions for 2025 and 2030.

“The policy message is that we can and should remain in the Paris Agreement (because) it is possible to effectively implement the commitments that have been made,” said Thiago Mendes, secretary of climate change in the Environment Ministry.

Reporting by Jake Spring and Maria Carolina Marcello; editing by Diane Craft

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