Brazil: (1) Strengthen the governance of land use and forestry to meet its existing pledge; (2) Strengthen the promotion of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power; (3) Reduce fossil fuel subsidies
In its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement, Brazil has pledged to restore 12 million hectares of forest and eliminate illegal deforestation. Until 2015, Brazil delivered some impressive results, fulfilling its commitments laid out in the National Climate Law, passed in 2009. Emission reductions from gross deforestation in the Amazon biome, from 2011 to 2015, totaled 3,154.5 MtCO2. Having shown its capacity to address the issue adequately, the government could aim for more ambitious progressive targets in Paris. However, since mid-2015, deforestation in the Amazon region has increased, according to data from the Brazilian government and the Climate Observatory (OC), reaching almost 30% between 2015 and 2016.
Poor management of funds, politicians with vested interests, and political and economic crises are the main barriers to the implementation of Brazil´s emissions reduction commitments. Compliance with the Paris Agreement is at risk should the Brazilian Congress continue to yield to pressure from the lobbies of the meat, soybean, mining and timber industries. Thus, rather than setting more ambitious targets at this stage, strengthening governance of land use and forestry to meet their original pledge should be the priority.
There are many legal instruments to address land degradation, deforestation and emissions reductions. However, Brazil´s capacity to enforce the law on the ground faces severe limitations such as the lack of human resources, violent conflicts over land tenure, and difficult access to areas at risk. Furthermore, present policies are being weakened to favor farmers that own vast properties in the Amazon and the Cerrado regions where cattle ranching and logging are the main activities. These are also the main drivers of land degradation and deforestation. The rural sector has a strong group in parliament lobbying for less stringent regulation.
Emissions from other sources have also grown, most notably from the energy sector, having reached a 45% increase between 2005 and 2015 due to fossil fuel use for transport and thermal plants. Further promoting renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power would set the pathway for more GHG emissions reductions. This strategy would involve engaging with business sector, resulting in much needed economic growth, jobs and income.
Another effective measure to reduce Brazil´s carbon footprint would be to reduce fossil fuel subsidies. This is a subject that is avoided by both the government and the private sector due to perceived implications to economic development, particularly considering the pre-salt production potential. Then again, it is a controversial issue worldwide.
Sources in English
Brazil´s Second Biennial Update Report to the UNFCCC. Available at http://sirene.mcti.gov.br/documents/1686653/2091005/BUR2-ING-02032017_final.pdf/300f0dd3-67b1-4ee0-b168-bba272135941
The System Study Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimates (SEEG) is a Climate Observatory (OC) initiative comprising annual estimates of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions in Brazil, analytical documents and data in a Web portal. Available at http://seeg.eco.br/en/
Article on the government´s attempt to reduce protected forests in the Amazon. Available at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-environment-idUSKBN19Z2FW
Sources in Portuguese
Article by Página 22 magazine on weakening of environmental policies in 2017. Available at http://pagina22.com.br/2017/08/23/sem-clima-para-celebrar/
Article at Terra website on the opening to mining of protected area in the Amazon. Available at https://www.terra.com.br/noticias/brasil/a-polemica-decisao-de-temer-de-abrir-uma-area-gigante-da-amazonia-a-mineracao,ea47fc54d2278ec2e0a5bf3deedd8b7
Greenpeace Brasil – Webpage on the Amazonia forest. Available at http://www.greenpeace.org/brasil/pt/O-que-fazemos/Amazonia/