An Amazon Tipping Point: The Economic and Environmental Fallout

Year of Publication
Onil Banerjee Martin Cicowiez
Marcia Macedo
Žiga Malek
Peter H. Verburg
Sean Goodwin
Renato Vargas
Ludmila Rattis
Paulo M. Brando
Michael T. Coe
Christopher Neill
Octavio Damiani Marti
Full Date
July 2021
Country - LAC
ecological tipping point
economic fallout
environmental fallout
The Amazon biome, despite its resilience, is being pushed by unsustainable economic drivers toward s an ecological tipping point where restoration to its previous state may no longer possible. This is the result of self - reinforcing interactions between defo restation, climate change and fire. In this paper, we develop scenarios that represent movement towards an Amazon tipping point and strategies to avert one. We assess the economic, natural capital and ecosystem services impacts of these scenarios using the Integrated Economic - Environmental Modeling (IEEM) Platform linked with high resolution spatial land use land cover change and ecosystem services modeling (IEEM+ESM) . Th is paper’s main contributions are developing: (i) a framewo rk for evaluating strategies to avert an Amazon tipping point based on their relative costs, benefits and trade - offs , and; (ii) a first approximation of the economic, natural capital and ecosystem services impacts of movement towards an Amazon tipping poin t, and evidence to build the economic case for strategies to avert it. We find that a conservative estimate of the cumulative regional cost through 205 0 of an Amazon tipping point would be US$ 256.6 billion in Gross Domestic Product. Policies that would contribute to averting a tipping point, including strongly reducing deforestation, investing in climate - adapted agriculture , and improving fire management, would generate a pproximately US$ 339.3 billion in additional wealth . From a public investment perspective, the returns to i mplementing strategies for averting a tipping point would be US$29. 5 billion. Quantifying the costs , benefits and trade - offs of policies to avert a tipping point in a tran sparent a nd replicable manner can pave the way for evidence - based approach es to support policy action focusing on the design of regional strategies for the Amazon biome and catalyze global cooperation and financing to enable their implementation.