Palm tree plantations are seen outside the city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The trees are cultivated in terraces cut into the contours of hills, to avoid erosion caused by streaming water. Malaysia is now one of the world’s largest exporters of palm oil – used primarily as a cooking ingredient – shipping nearly 18 million tonnes per year. The rapid expansion of palm oil plantations in the world’s tropical regions is becoming an increasingly significant source of carbon emissions. Clearing the native trees to make space for the palms is projected to add more than 558 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by 2020 – an amount greater than all of Canada’s current fossil fuel emissions.
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