The world has just 12 years left to halve greenhouse gas emissions to prevent catastrophic climate change, but hopes that a solution will come from saving the last great tracts of tropical rainforest are dimming.

Trees and soils are crucial to managing climate change; plants absorb about a third of the carbon dioxide that humans produce, while the earth takes about 10 to 15 percent. Recent estimates suggest that stopping deforestation and other "natural climate solutions" could help achieve 37 percent of the climate target needed to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Combined with a rapid phase-out of fossil fuel, this could be enough to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. That's the threshold beyond which a recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warns that massive and destabilizing climate events will be inevitable.

But the current climate commitments of the countries with the richest swaths of rainforest indicate they will continue to clear trees, undermining one of the best available solutions to staving off climate change impacts.

Read the full article about deforestation and climate change by Hans Nicholas Jong at Pacific Standard.