By André Costa Nahur, Head of Climate & Energy, WWF-Brazil
Most people agree Brazil has made advances in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. In the 1990s, deforestation (which turns forests from carbon sinks into carbon emitters) was responsible for around 70% of Brazil’s national emissions. By 2012 that had been reduced to around 30%.
But there’s been a change in the country’s pattern of emissions. The biggest source of greenhouse gases in Brazil over the last decade is no longer deforestation of the Amazon, but energy production and agriculture.
Most of Brazil’s energy still comes from hydroelectric power (there’s a lot of water in Brazil), but in recent decades there’s been an increased reliance on fossil-fuel-powered thermal power plants.
It seems the Brazilian government is still basing its future energy plans on hydro dams and thermal power – despite all the national potential for renewable alternatives like solar energy, wind and biomass.
Alarmingly, in the last two years the Brazilian government has actually reduced investment in renewable energy by almost half. It’s also predicted that the number of cars in Brazil will increase four-fold by 2050, which will undoubtedly add to the country’s carbon emissions.
This is despite evidence (from the IPCC and national experts) that the temperature in Brazil increased 2℃ in some regions over the last century – and future scenarios show it could increase disastrously from 3-6℃ by 2100.
Brazilian society is already seeing the impacts of climate change, with damage to food production and water availability, and an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events.
BRAZIL NEEDS TO START MAKING DIFFERENT INVESTMENTS AND PROMOTING LOW-CARBON DEVELOPMENT AT NATIONAL LEVEL BY 2020.
So what do we need to see Brazil doing by 2020?
Brazil needs to start making different investments and promoting low-carbon development at national level. We also need to prepare to adapt to the climate impacts we are already facing and will have to deal with in the future.
In 2014, the Brazilian government started an open consultation process to put together the next ‘INDC’ – our national contribution to emissions reduction.
The process started with online dialogues with different sectors to gather opinions. Some of us Brazilian NGOs sent a contribution, which focused on equity – the need for emissions cuts to be made fairly – as well as on Brazil’s historical commitment to reduce its emissions to below 1 gigatonne before 2030.
We also need to see a commitment from the Brazilian government at international level, in addition to practical actions being implemented domestically.
Brazil needs an effective national climate change policy that includes considerations like:
• commitments to achieve zero net deforestation
• increase of renewables in the Brazilian energy mix
• economic incentives to support renewables
• actions on agriculture and solid waste disposal
• a ‘national adaptation plan’ that will help increase the resilience of Brazilians to the impacts of climate change.
WE WANT TO SEE RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES – BIOMASS, SOLAR AND WIND – REACH 33% OF THE NATIONAL ENERGY MIX BY 2025.
On agriculture, for example, we are asking the Brazilian government to reinforce the Low- Carbon Agriculture Plan, and to link with other government strategies to guarantee effective implementation.
In the energy sector, we are asking the government to promote at least one exclusive action for each alternative renewable energy source up to 2018 – to try to guarantee that biomass, solar and wind can reach 33% of the national energy mix by 2025.
Brazil is moving and changing, but we could do much more to make sure we’re on the right path. We must do more.
We can show that it’s possible for Brazil to develop and at the same time create a low-carbon future – with security of food, water, energy and climate for everyone.