Skip to main content

Amazon rainforest has become a net carbon emitter

by Joy Green, Jul 14
1 minute read

The Amazon rainforest used to absorb carbon dioxide, and was an important global carbon sink that slowed the progress of global warming. However research has found that the forest now emits a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, due to fires, hotter temperatures, deforestation and droughts. Most worryingly, part of the Amazon is emitting carbon dioxide even without fires.

aerial view of green trees

So what

The net emissions from the Amazon are huge – equivalent to those of Japan – and will accelerate climate impacts both locally (as rainfall patterns will be affected) and globally. A dangerous feedback loop is becoming established where where deforestation and climate change drive a release of carbon from the remaining forest that reinforces additional warming and more carbon emissions. However fires (clearing for beef and soy farming) currently drive most of this loss, and researchers say that prohibition of fires could still reverse this and return the Amazon to it’s former state as a carbon sink.



by Joy Green Spotted 37 signals

Joy is a Principal Futurist at Forum for the Future.

Have you spotted a signal of change?

Register to receive the latest from the Futures Centre.
Sign up

  • 0
  • Share

Join discussion

Related signals

Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We'd also like to set optional analytics cookies to help us improve it. We won't set optional cookies unless you enable them. Using this tool will set a cookie on your device to remember your preferences.

For more detailed information about the cookies we use, see our Cookies page.

Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytics cookies

We'd like to set Google Analytics cookies to help us to improve our website by collecting and reporting information on how you use it. The cookies collect information in a way that does not directly identify anyone. For more information on how these cookies work, please see our 'Cookies page'.