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Coal’s hidden ‘double whammy’: 12 million hectares of forest at risk

15 dezembro 2015

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A forest area larger than Portugal is at risk from coal mining worldwide, a report released by Fern during the Paris climate change talks reveals.

Using Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping technology to overlay data for coal-mining concession and forest cover for the first time, the report, Double Jeopardy: coal’s threat to forests, shows that at least 11.9 million hectares of forest are threatened by coal globally.

Since burning coal is the single biggest contributor to man-made climate change and deforestation accounts for up to a sixth of C02 emissions, this represents a ‘double whammy’ for the climate.

The report shows that forests in Indonesia, Australia, India and the US are particularly vulnerable, and argues that strong forest laws enshrining communities’ tenure rights are key to keeping forests standing and, where coal lies beneath them, keeping it in the ground. In India the landmark Forest Rights Act (FRA) has been a vital safeguard against wiping out forests for coal.

romanian mine

The report also states that, because of the dearth of data available in some countries, the scale of the actual threat is far greater than its calculations show; it calls for greater transparency from governments and companies.

[Image: Mihar Stoica]

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