Spotlight Activity: Proposed Energy Policy Reforms Under Brazil’s New President
Brazil is the ninth largest economy in the world and a serious energy power worldwide. It is the ninth oil producer of the world, the second biofuels and hydropower producer of the world and the eighth largest country by wind power installed capacity. Brazil’s government is heavily involved in the energy sector: it owns half of Brazil’s major electric utility, Electrobras, and half of the oil company, Petrobras. Renewable energy is on the rise in Brazil. In an average month – for example, June of this year – renewable energy sources represented 81.9% of the installed capacity of electricity generation in Brazil (according to data from the Ministry of Mines and Energy).
Unfortunately, Brazil’s new president-elect Jair Bolsonaro may take the country on a different path. Due to his neoliberal stance, subsidies and incentives in renewable energies such as solar and wind power could be eliminated. Instead of that, it is possible Bolsonaro’s government policies will invest in fossil fuels.
The future of Electrobras (the public electricity utility) and Petrobras (one of the 20 largest oil companies in the world) seems uncertain under Bolsonaro. His government plan first states that the energy sector “needs a liberal shock.” However, consulted on the privatization of Electrobras, Bolsonaro said “Electric power is vital, and therefore cannot be handed over to other countries.” He added “I’m in favor of privatizing many things in Brazil, but not in the energy sector.” Regarding Petrobras, Bolsonaro’s chief economic adviser, Pablo Guedes, has spoken of the company’s total privatization. Yet Bolsonaro said in an interview in October that the “core” of Petrobras should be preserved.
One of the main concerns with respect to the energy policy of Bolsonaro’s government is in environmental matters. Brazil is the sixth largest country greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the world. Under the Paris Agreement, the country promised to reduce its GHG emissions by 37% by 2025 in relation to 2005 emissions. The focus has been on combating deforestation in the Amazon, investing in renewable energies, and better efficiency in the agricultural sector.
Yet Bolsonaro seems to disregard environmental protections. His government plans to lower taxes on fossil fuels, stating that: “In the formulation of energy prices, including fuels, there is a strong influence of state taxes, which will need to be reviewed among all the federative entities, in order not to overload the Brazilian consumer.” In addition, Bolsonaro has often raised the need to speed up environmental licensing processes, including for new hydroelectric plants in the Amazon region. His government plan wants to push through environmental licensing for small hydroelectric power plants, promising that they will “ensure that the licensing is evaluated within a maximum period of three months.”
Another concern for Brazilian energy is the 3 nuclear plants it already has, and other projects that are planned. According to a report from Reuters, Oswaldo Ferreira, one of several retired generals advising Bolsonaro, said that if he were elected, the government would also complete Brazil’s corruption-plagued Angra 3 nuclear power station on the coast between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Status: Falling Behind
If the measures described above are carried out during Bolsonaro’s government, there will be both local and global consequences. The negative socio-environmental impact of this energy policy would harm indigenous communities and the poorest sectors of society. And it will be impossible for Brazil to comply with its to reduce greenhouse gases – bad news for the already uphill fight against climate change.
Please send the following message to the policymaker(s) below.
Dear Admiral Costa:
As the Energy Minister for Brazil’s new government we urge you to support Brazil’s commitment to the development of low carbon energy resources and take further steps to prevent the deforestation of the Amazon, a major global resource for carbon storage that is needed in our planet’s effort to combat climate change and global warming. We also encourage you to strengthen Brazil’s emissions reduction pledges to the Paris Agreement.
Admiral Bento Costa
Minister of Energy
Ministry of Mines and Energy
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Director Ron Israel with excepts from Brazilian Energy Under Bolsinaro’s Government: Brazil Above All by Maxmiliano Proano Nov 9,2018, Energy Transition: The global Energy Report