The Climate Observatory, a network that brings together 77 civil society organizations dedicated to discussing climate change in Brazil, released updated information on greenhouse gas emissions on 11/01/22.
The data are part of the 10th edition of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimation System (SEEG) and were published five days before COP27, the World Climate Conference, which will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
According to SEEG, Brazil emitted 2.42 billion gross tons of CO2e (a unit that encompasses all greenhouse gases) in 2021. The figure represents an increase of 12.2% compared to 2020 (2, 16 billion tons). In 2003, Brazil hit 3.02 billion gross tons of carbon dioxide. That year, the increase was 20%, driven by the explosion of deforestation in the Amazon. Deforestation in the Amazon accounted for 77% of emissions from land use changes.
Last year, emissions from deforestation were also the main responsible for the increase. Boosted by the third consecutive year of growth in the deforested area in the Amazon and other biomes, emissions from land use change (MUT) and forests rose by 18.5%. The destruction of Brazilian biomes emitted 1.19 billion gross tons last year — more than Japan — against 1 billion tons in 2020.
Increases in gas emissions in other sectors
Although the land use change sector was the one that most impacted the increase in greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil, almost all other areas evaluated in the SEEG also showed increases, such as agriculture (+3.8%), industrial processes, and use of products (+8.2%) and energy (12.2%). The waste sector was the only one that remained stable between 2021 and 2022, mainly because of the methane recovered in landfills.
In the case of energy, the rise is due to different factors, mainly the resumption of the economy after the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, there was the 2021 water crisis, which dried up the hydroelectric reservoirs and forced the activation of coal-fired thermoelectric plants. The drought also caused a drop in the sugarcane harvest in the Southeast, increasing the price of ethanol, and reducing the share of biofuels in the energy matrix.
One of the bets for Brazil is the production of green hydrogen through the use of renewable energy, for example, the production of wind energy. According to the SEEG coordinator, Tasso Azevedo, the use of alternative energies must go hand in hand with reducing the use of fossil fuels.
In the case of agriculture, the second sector that most emitted greenhouse gases, the biggest villain is cattle belching. According to a survey by the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), in 2021, Brazil reached 224.6 million head of cattle, the highest number in the historical series.
For the climate coordinator of the NGO Imaflora (Forest and Agricultural Management and Certification Institute), Renata Potenza, carbon sequestration, a practice in which CO₂ from the atmosphere is transformed into oxygen through the treatment of degraded pasture and crops, can contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Paris Agreement Goals
The increase in the emission of greenhouse gases distances Brazil from the goals set in the Paris Agreement, in 2015. The Agreement supports an effort to reduce emissions by no more than 2°C in 100 years, with an ideal target of 1.5°C when compared to pre-industrial levels.
Brazil also is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050 and cutting at least 50% of emissions by 2030. Tasso Azevedo believes that it is possible to achieve the objective if the focus is on reducing the deforested area. “If deforestation [in Brazil] drops by 50%, we would get closer to the goal we have for 2030”.
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Brazil Country Manager Carlos de Oliveira