Humans destroyed tropical forests last year at a punishing clip — with forest destruction in the Amazon soaring 85% since 2018.
Yet amid this wave of deforestation, two countries are bucking the trend.
In fact, Colombia and Costa Rica saw not only a drop in deforestation rates, but renewed efforts to restore previously degraded forests that generated revenue for their economies.
What did these two verdant countries have in common? Both have imposed taxes on carbon emissions.
Economists and scientists agree that carbon taxes help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by creating an incentive for people to use less fossil fuels.
Carbon taxes are also effective at reducing the greenhouse gas emissions created by the destruction of tropical rainforests, making them even more critical to addressing the climate crisis.
If tropical deforestation were a country, it would be the world’s largest emitter after China and the United States. Moreover, tropical rainforests remove carbon from the atmosphere: The Amazon, for example absorbs five percent of global carbon emissions every year.
This means that when we cut down our rainforests, we also eliminate one of our best tools for addressing the climate crisis.
But in both Colombia and Costa Rica, deforestation rates are down, while revenues to fund forest restoration efforts are up.
Colombia’s programme has generated more than $250 million in revenue over the past three years. More than a quarter of that revenue goes toward environmental causes such as reducing deforestation and monitoring protected areas.