As for the second issue, computer models that link climate effects to changes in the carbon cycle have predicted that tropical forests will survive and continue to act as a "sink" by absorbing carbon, provided that emissions can be kept under control . The efficiency of the tropical forest as a carbon sink might in fact diminish over time, but the authors expect that it will not disappear completely.
The political challenges to reducing deforestation in the tropical developing world are varied and complex. Traditionally, many countries have viewed their forests as an economic resource that they have the right to harvest, much as oil- and ore-rich nations exercise the right to harvest those resources. As such, many proposed solutions are centered on direct economic incentives to reduce rates of tree clearing.
However, the authors of the policy article describe low-cost measures that can enhance the success of carbon-trade systems and subsidized low-carbon development programs. For example, by strategically evaluating forest land to determine its value for other uses, developing countries can focus on clearing only areas with high agricultural value.
"It will require political will and sound economic strategy to make the RED initiative work," explains Field. "But the initiative provides a big reduction in emissions at low cost. It is a good example of the kind of creative thinking that can help solve the climate problem."