A deforested plot of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, September 3, 2015.
Nacho Doce / Reuters

During the Paris climate talks last December, Brazil broadcast its ambitions to reduce its overall emissions by at least 36 percent by 2020 and 43 percent in 2030. These may seem like lofty targets for a developing economy, but Brazil has a significant advantage in meeting its goal: it is already halfway there.

This is no small feat. In the 1990s, the country was a rabid logger, shaving off El Salvador-sized chunks of its rainforest every year. That had a significant impact on the climate since clearing forests releases carbon dioxide; deforestation is responsible for one-fifth of carbon emissions worldwide. But in Brazil, the

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