The vast tropical forests of Colombia contain an immense amount of carbon but they are being cut down at a rapid rate. So protecting and restoring these forests is an important way to slow global warming.

In 2017, the country implemented a plan to encourage forest protection while also reducing carbon pollution. It starts with a carbon tax on liquid fossil fuels.

“It will incentivize companies to use less fossil fuels because now they have to pay tax on them. It’s more expensive,” says Sebastian Troëng, executive vice president at the nonprofit Conservation International.

He says some of the tax revenue funds projects that protect forests. What’s more, companies get a tax break if they take the initiative to reduce carbon pollution. Many have therefore invested in reforestation projects.

Colombia generates less than 1% of the world’s carbon pollution. But Troëng says its carbon tax model highlights the potential that other larger economies have to put similar systems in place that would be tremendously beneficial:

“Both in terms of driving down emissions from industry,” Troëng says, “and in terms of supporting conservation and restoration efforts for our remaining forests.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Daisy Simmons

Daisy Simmons is a freelance writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience in research-driven storytelling. In addition to contributing to Yale Climate Connections since early 2016, she also...