India’s $6.2 billion reforestation program to sequester carbon, fight climate change

The government of India is pushing the envelope in its recent $6.2 billion proposal to reforest 12% of the country.

This comes as an aim to meet the emissions standards set forth by the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) plan to cut the country’s emissions by up to 35% of 2005 levels by 2030.

The $6.2 billion Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) bill was passed by India’s lower house Parliament with overwhelming support and is now sitting with the upper house for final approval. The bill will fund afforestation across the country to increase forest cover from the current levels of 21 percent to 33 percent in the years to come.

Our forest cover will dramatically increase and it will result in achieving our target 33 percent of tree cover and most importantly 2.5 billion tonne of carbon sink as we have indicated in our INDCs.” – India’s Environmental Minister Prakash Javadekar from outside the Parliament.

As a rule of thumb, a tree can absorb 48 lbs of CO2 per year and lock away 1 ton of CO2 in the first 40 years of its life. Using this very rough estimate, India would have to plant 62.5 million trees and grow them to 40 years old to capture the target 2.6 billion tons of carbon.

An ambitious goal, but not impossible with the aforementioned funding dedicated to this one purpose. The key is oversight to ensure compliance and monitor progress in a country that has dealt with its fair share of corruption.

Sequestering carbon is a key factor in reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and reforestation has far more ancillary benefits–and far fewer downsides–than capital-intensive engineered “solutions” like injecting liquid CO2 into porous reservoirs deep in the Earth.

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