Story at a glance
- A new study in the journal Nature Climate Change analyzed the Brazilian Amazon’s carbon emission.
- The Brazilian Amazon released 16.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from 2010 through 2019.
- The study also found that deforestation increased almost fourfold in 2019 from the previous two years.
A new report on Thursday found that over the last decade the Brazilian Amazon released approximately 20 percent more carbon dioxide than it absorbed.
According to the journal Nature Climate Change, the Brazilian Amazon released 16.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide and only absorbed 13.9 billion tonnes from 2010 through 2019.
"We half-expected it, but it is the first time that we have figures showing that the Brazilian Amazon has flipped, and is now a net emitter," said Jean-Pierre Wigneron, a scientist at France's National Institute for Agronomic Research and co-author of the study.
Also cited in the study were instances of deforestation, both from fires and clear-cutting, which increased almost fourfold in 2019 in comparison to the two previous years.
"Brazil saw a sharp decline in the application of environmental protection policies after the change of government in 2019," the INRA said in a statement. The change coincides with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro taking office.
Combating climate change would be increasingly difficult if the Amazon became a large source of carbon dioxide, experts say.
"We don't know at what point the changeover could become irreversible," said Wigneron.
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