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Today, everyone is talking about climate change but not many people are aware of the role that forests play. In fact, deforestation is responsible for around one fifth of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is more than all of the cars, planes, and trains in the world put together - and means that forest destruction is one of the biggest causes of climate change.
Destruction and degradation of forests drives climate change in two ways. First, the clearing and burning of forests releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and second, the area of forest that absorbs carbon dioxide is reduced.
Ending deforestation is one of the fastest ways to save the climate.
To avert climate catastrophe in our lifetime - world leaders must agree on deeper cuts in CO2 emissions from both fossil fuels and forest destruction at the UN climate summit this December in Copenhagen. We need a plan to end global deforestation before 2020 and a substantial global fundso that forested countries like Indonesia and Brazil can put the planinto action.
Politicians are discussing a number of options to protectforests under the new climate deal. Some would effectively protect what's at stake while others would drive further deforestation. Any such fund must ensure that money does not end up in the hands of those responsible for forest destruction, such as the logging industry.Our Forests for Climate solution shows the way to achieve both forest and climate protection.
Our Climate Defenders Camp is on the threatened Kampar Peninsula, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. In the countdown to Copenhagen we're focusing global attention on Indonesia as a stark example of unabated forest destruction. The speed and scale of deforestation there clearly demonstrates why it's so important that politicians take action to protect forests in December.
The rainforests of Indonesia, along with the carbon rich peat soils they grow on, form one of the largest natural carbon stores on the planet. They're a vital defense system against climate change. But international market demand for products like palm oil - that's used to make our chocolate bars, toothpaste and biofuels - has driven thedestruction of more than 74 million hectares of Indonesia's rainforestsince 1950 (an area larger than the size of France). According to the latest figures, Indonesia has one of the fastest rates of forest destruction - making it the third largest climate polluter (after China and the US).
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has promisedto reduce Indonesia's massive CO2 emissions and has said he will make deeper cuts if rich countries provide the money needed to protect his country's forests. While this fund is being set up, Yudhoyono must set up an immediate moratorium on the destruction of Indonesia's forests and peat soils.
By defending forests we're not only protecting forest communities, endangered species like orangutans and tigers and some of the richest ecosystems in the world -- we're defending the global climate that's essential for all life on earth, including ours.