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Brazil pledges to cut deforestation by 70%

Amazon rainforest map

Last chance to save: Yellow line marks out the Amazon rainforest, black lines mark national boundaries (Brazil, which has the largest portion of the forest, is on the right).

Credit: WWF/NASA

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Jose Marengo, a scientist at the Brazilian Space Research Institute, which measures Amazon deforestation by satellite, said the move was a step forward "because at least we're talking about targets – before the government had the position that Brazil wasn't to blame (for greenhouse gas emissions), that they came more from the U.S. and industrialised countries."

He also said that, if deforestation in Brazil continues at the current rate, starting in about 2040, the rainforest will turn into more open savannah, "and no longer manage to absorb CO,2 but rather become a net source of it."

Step forward

Although Brazil had up to now rejected the notion of targets, it had been making efforts against deforestation that permitted a 59 per cent reduction after registering a historic peak of 27,000 square kilometres of stripped forest in 2004.

The announced plan, as well as setting a deforestation goal, covers improved energy efficiency, encouraging alternative energy sources and increasing by 20 per cent trash recycling in urban areas by 2015.

"We will surely receive criticism, but we can say that we are presenting a better one (plan) than China or India, and better than others that still haven't signed the Kyoto Protocol," Lula said.

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