The Dynamics of Deforestation and Economic Growth in the Brazilian Amazon

By Lykke E. Andersen; Clive W. J. Granger et al. | Go to book overview

7
Carbon emissions

It has been argued that a reduction in tropical deforestation rates would be a relatively cheap way of curbing global CO2 emissions compared to the cost of reducing fossil-fuel consumption in the industrialized world (Nordhaus 1991; FACE 1993; Schneider 1993; Kolk 1996). To assess whether this is a reasonable argument one would need better estimates of carbon emissions from deforestation as well as better estimates of the benefits of deforestation.

In chapter 6 we tried to assess the benefits of deforestation in terms of increased rural and urban output. In this chapter1 we attempt to provide estimates of the rate of carbon emissions arising from land use change in the Brazilian Amazon. We will show that even when we only include the period of most rapid development in the region (1970–1985),2 our estimates are considerably lower than other estimates found in the literature. This is owing to two factors. First, we take into account the uneven spatial distribution of deforestation: lower clearing costs cause deforestation to take place in the most accessible and least dense forests as long as these are available. Second, we take into account the considerable secondary regrowth and the carbon sequestration that takes place when previously cleared land is abandoned.

The remainder of the chapter is organized as follows. The next section describes the carbon emissions model and the parameter values used for simulations. We then describe the data on original vegetation cover and changes in land use and summarize the estimated age structure of deforested land. We then summarize deforestation measures and the calculated carbon emissions and compare these to the economic activity generated by the aggressive policies. We finally discuss factors contributing to

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1
This chapter draws heavily on Reis and Andersen (1997).
2
We do not use data from the 1995 Agricultural Census in this chapter, since the potential problems of undercounting discussed in chapter 3 could seriously bias our estimates of carbon emissions downwards. By using data only from the period of most rapid deforestation, we get an upper bound on annual carbon emissions.

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The Dynamics of Deforestation and Economic Growth in the Brazilian Amazon
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Figures vii
  • Tables ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Acronyms and Abbreviations xviii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Development of the Brazilian Amazon 11
  • 3 - The Municipal Database 36
  • 4 - The Sources and Agents of Deforestation 66
  • 5 - Alternatives to Deforestation: Extractivism 91
  • 6 - Modeling Deforestation and Development in the Brazilian Amazon 111
  • 7 - Carbon Emissions 152
  • 8 - The Costs and Benefits of Deforestation 167
  • 9 - Conclusions and Recommendations 200
  • Technical Appendix 209
  • References 241
  • Index 257
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