Let's Pay People Not to Cut Down Trees

A deal could curb greenhouse gas emissions by 18%
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2009 2:42 PM CDT
Newly-planted palm oil trees are seen growing on the site of destroyed tropical rainforest in Kuala Cenaku, Riau Province November 21, 2007 in Sumatra Island, Indonesia.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Deforestation releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, so how about paying people to keep trees standing? A pilot project in Brazil has paid families to do just that, and aroused the interest of world leaders who plan to negotiate a climate deal in Copenhagen in December, the Economist reports. But analysts fear that wealthy countries, who would foot the bill, may use the plan to pass off climate-saving concerns to the developing world.

There are other problems. Nations that have already curbed deforestation, like Costa Rica, would not benefit from such a scheme. Certain investors and companies would, however, which rankles some critics. But the plan has already attracted about $800 million from countries around the world, and could cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 18%—more than eliminating all the world's vehicles in one fell swoop.