Emissions from deforestation and land-use change are now at 12.2 per cent, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI) which had previously made estimates that were more than 17 per cent.
The original 17 per cent figure – which was widely disseminated by the Stern Review and consequently revised upwards to 20 per cent by Greenpeace – was based on work by Richard Houghton of the Woods Hole Research Centre.
Houghton’s estimates of carbon flux were themselves based on deforestation rates from the FAO until 2000.
With the figures under increasing scrutiny from scholars, particularly Guido Van der Werf from the University of Amsterdam, Houghton issued revised figures based on 2005 data, which have pushed the figure down.
The FAO’s 2005 data are about to be updated once again with the release of the 2010 Forest Resources Assessment. The initial key findings of the report indicate that deforestation levels have decreased once again – meaning deforestation emissions are likely to be even lower.