16% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Result from Deforestation and Logging

Global GHG Emissions (2005)

Global GHG Emissions (2005) - Data sources

That’s more than the annual emissions of the world’s entire transportation sector.

Where does that number come from?

As part of our regular best practices and to prepare for the fast-evolving climate discussions happening in Copenhagen and around the world, CI recently re-investigated the sources, context and timeliness of our climate data to ensure that we are working with the most accurate and up-to-date figures available. This is the result of our recent analysis of anthropogenic (human-linked) greenhouse gas emissions:

1. About 16% of annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions result from deforestation and logging.

2. Annual GHG emissions from deforestation and logging are:

• More than the total annual GHG emissions of the United States or China

• More than the annual emissions of all the cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships in the world.

• More than the annual emissions of the world’s entire transportation sector.

Read our deforestation, logging, and GHG emissions factsheet (PDF –2.7 KB) for full data and data sources.

Reports have indicated a recent drop in the percentage of emissions from deforestation and logging. Deforestation rates have not slowed. Deforestation has continued apace over the last decade and the smaller relative percentage is mostly due to a faster relative increase in emissions from energy use.

The world cannot achieve the emissions reductions necessary to safely stabilize climate without addressing emissions resulting from deforestation. Reducing emissions from deforestation is among the most immediate and cost effective climate change solutions available. These strategies can be implemented now, without waiting for more costly technologies to be developed, tested, and to become more cost effective.

Right now in Copenhagen, the UN is considering ways to formalize a system to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) at the global scale.

CI delegates are currently working hard at the Copenhagen COP15 Climate Change conference. Find out more about what we’re doing and who’s attending.

Elizabeth Baer manages Conservation Tools for Business at Conservation International.


  1. zootcadillac says

    Dear sirs.

    Would it be possible for you to be clearer with the facts you declare in this article. Can you elaborate on the emissions you call GHG and break them down do that the figures you quote can be studied properly?
    Can you state what the GHG annual total is? Can you make it clear that you are speaking of the annual emissions produced anthropogenically and not the natural exchange of methane and CO2 between carbon sinks, biological and geological features.
    Can you be clearer about the fact that man has little control over the largest natural GHG factors and that other than the man-made gases not naturally occurring which man emits as pollutants? The amount of CO2 for example is actually less than 3% of the annual CO2 released to atmosphere in total, globally.
    Can you show where this data was obtained and how it has been compiled? Your PDF seems to be talking about CO” ( in which case the data is currently incorrect ) but your article says GHG which is a much wider set of data and includes at least 70% water vapour that man can not control.

    As it stands the article is misleading and the figures mean nothing other than in relation and comparison to each other and the real numbers only matter when taken in relation to the global total factoring in all sources of GHG. You are discussing data relating solely to anthropogenic emissions but make no reference to that anywhere which I feel is disingenuous and misleading to the layman.

    I’d ask that you look at the article please and make it clearer to the reader what these currently out of context figures are suposed to mean.


  2. Elizabeth Baer says

    Thanks for your comments. We regret that you found our article unclear and have clarified that this analysis relates only to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. The intention of this post was to highlight key findings rather than to be exhaustive, but most of the details you’re looking for are available in the downloadable PDF.

  3. Val Degnan says

    Dear Elizabeth,
    I thank you for your disclosure of this data. Let me say that as a person who did not really know what anthropogenic was (thanks for the explanation above) I think I can speak for many “lay people” when I say to zootcadillac…”of course it is human-linked data!” We may not be able to do anything about the natural exchanges (or at least very little), but this data is important. It is shocking! I have shared it with many of my colleagues and classmates as I have decided to do a thesis on ecotourism.
    We are all stunned by these statistics. The more I delve into the sad state of the tropical rainforest, the more angry I become.
    I don’t have the citation, but I know it was a pastor in the 1800′s who said something like, I can’t do everything, but I can do something. And I won’t let the things I can’t do stop me from doing the thing that I can do.
    Thank you for making me more aware.

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