Amazon Carbon Emissions' Road to Recovery
According to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) in Brazil, Amazon rainforest carbon emissions skyrocketed in 2019 and 2020 because of low enforcement of environmental legislation. Emissions levels were counted at 0.44 billion metric tons and 0.52 billion metric tons in 2019 and 2020 respectively, compared to annual averages of around 0.24 billion metric tons from 2010-2018. A large part of this increase has been attributed to a rise in deforestation, which hit a 12-year annual high in 2020, with 2.7 million acres (11,088 square kilometers) demolished.
Newly elected President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva made a promise to end deforestation by 2030 and regain the losses of his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro, who was president from 2019-2022 and axed environmental protection efforts. Research also showed the number of fines for illegal deforestation in the Amazon was cut in half in 2020, compared to levels between 2010 and 2018.
The lowest monthly level since 2017 was recorded in July 2023, at 123,000 acres (500 square kilometers) being cleared, a 66% drop from a year ago.
Deforestation poses a huge problem due to increased erosion, forest fires, greenhouse gas emissions, extreme weather events, and more. On a personal level, people can avoid single-use packaging, eat sustainably, use recycled or responsibly-produced wood, use less, paper, and recycle to diminish the negative effects of deforestation.