New Report: Approaching the Point of No Return

PublicationsNew Report: Approaching the Point of No Return

Progression towards saving the world’s last remaining tropical forests through enhanced ambition in the Nationally Determined Contributions

Forests can, and have to, contribute substantially in reaching the objective of the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to well below two degrees and pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees. Without a radical shift in land use policies to halt deforestation and forest degradation and to restore degraded forest and peatlands, it is virtually impossible to achieve the Paris Agreement objectives. The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) define the mitigation ambition of countries under the Paris Agreement. This report examines the role of tropical forests in the NDCs of six key countries – Brazil, Indonesia, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Peru, Myanmar and
Colombia – and what their NDCs mean for the future of tropical forests in these countries.

None of the NDCs analyzed are in line with current international goals of halting deforestation by at least 2030. Deforestation would continue even if these climate targets are met and in a few of the countries, deforestation is even likely to increase.
Indonesia is the only country in this analysis that specify in their NDC that deforestation is to be reduced from current levels. They have specified an emissions target for their forestry sector (including peat fire) for 2030 of 217 million tonnes CO2 by 2030, or as low as 64 Million tonnes CO2 conditional of international financial support. This corresponds to a 66-90 percent reduction from 2010-levels.

The NDC also specifies that this target implies an annual deforestation of 325 000 hectares. This is an improvement on current deforestation levels, but still means that 3.25 million hectares of forest, the size of Belgium, will be deforested by 2030 even when reaching the NDC target. Brazil’s NDC does not specify a mitigation ambition for forests, but its foundation document describes a 72 percent reduction of deforestation emissions by 2025 and a 90 percent reduction by 2030, compared to 2005-levels. However, since deforestation in Brazil was very high in 2005, this target does not mean any substantial reduction in deforestation by 2025 from current levels. With deforestation in the Amazon already reduced by approximately 65 percent since 2005, there is substantial room for increased ambition, at least in the period until 2025. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) expects emissions from its land-use and forestry sector to approximately double from 2010 to 2030 in their business as usual scenario.

The NDC target means that emissions from this sector would still increase, but at a slower rate. If the NDC targe is reached, emissions in this sector will be 50 percent higher in 2030 than in 2010. Much of this reduction is to be achieved through afforestation and reforestation measures, meaning that we can expect deforestationlevels to increase by 2030, compared to 2010, even after implementing the NDC. Peru estimates a 70 percent increase in emissions from deforestation and degradation in the country from 2010 to 2030, in their business as usual scenario. The Peruvian mitigation target is to reduce emissions by 20% or 30% compared to this scenario, and in that reduce emissions from forest and land use by 71-77%. However, this means that emissions from the forest and land use sectors can increase even if the targets are met – by 21 percent from 2010 to 2030, or by 3 percent if international financial help is provided.


Colombia and Myanmar do not provide enough detail in the NDC to assess the expected emissions from forests. In Myanmar’s case, this is because their NDC only presents plans and measures, and not a quantitative target. However, the NDC mentions that estimates of the mitigation effect of the plans and measures have been produced. Myanmar should be encouraged to present these mitigation effects in an updated NDC before 2020.

Colombia has committed to clarifying its goals for forest emissions before 2020.
A common feature of the NDCs is that forest degradation has not been sufficiently included. As recent studies suggest that emissions from degradation of tropical forests could supersede those of deforestation, it is important that tropical forest countries make every effort to include this in their NDC, and that they receive support to develop the capacity to monitor and address such forest degradation.

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