Seeing the Forest for the Trees?: The Role of Afforestation and Reforestation in Combating Climate Change
- May 28, 2021 4:29 pm GMT
In recent years, there has been increasing discussion of the potential role of afforestation and reforestation in addressing climate change by effectuating the removal of large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Indeed, a number of recent studies have indicated that tree planting could contribute substantially to meeting the temperature targets of the Paris Agreement. Most prominently, modeling by Bastin et al. projects that increasing forest cover by 25 percent could result in the storage of a quarter of current atmospheric carbon pools. In the United States, this had led to both legislative and executive initiatives to drive massive tree-planting programs. Four U.S. senators recently introduced the Trillion Trees and Natural Carbon Storage Act, which, inter alia, calls for support of the 1t.org initiative, an international program for reforestation of a trillion trees. In October 2020, President Donald Trump signed an executive order establishing the One Trillion Trees Interagency Council to help further the federal government’s contribution to the World Economic Forum’s One Trillion Trees initiative.
However, while tree planting assuredly may have a modest role to play in the battle against climate change, the vision of a “trillion trees” could prove to be chimerical, as well as counterproductive from an environmental and social justice perspective.
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