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Greenhouse gas emissions due to deforestation

The Netherlands is a major importer of tropical products like timber, soya, palm oil and pulp. For production of these commodities, natural forests are damaged and clear-felled. In this study, carried out by CE Delft at the request of Greenpeace-Netherlands, the greenhouse gas emissions due to deforestation and forest degradation have been estimated. Because of the marked rise in imports of palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia in recent years, the study focuses on these two countries, with additional focus on other major products from these countries like timber.

The calculations were performed using the methodology developed for this purpose by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In the period up to and including 2005, the forest degradation/destruction in Indonesia and Malaysia that can be ascribed to the Netherlands led to greenhouse gas emissions totalling 12 to 25 Mt/year, equivalent to some 5-10% of total GHG emissions in the Netherlands itself. Because of the subsequent sharp rise in forest degradation/destruction, in 2006 and 2007 these emissions had increased to 30-32 Mt/y, equivalent to 15% of total Dutch emissions.

The curbing of deforestation is a key issue in the run-up to the climate conference in Copenhagen at the end of this year.

The results of this study apportion major responsibility to the Netherlands and other countries importing farm and forestry products from the tropics. The study is highly relevant for the current debate on REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), a pivotal element of ongoing climate negotiations.

Authors CE

Harry Croezen

Delft, May 2009


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