Brazil turns from ‘candidate’ to ‘candidate country’ for climate action

With the clock ticking on the first week of climate talks in Poland, Brazil announced that it would formally file “early action” actions. “The announcement has deep significance because this is the first country…

Brazil turns from ‘candidate’ to ‘candidate country’ for climate action

With the clock ticking on the first week of climate talks in Poland, Brazil announced that it would formally file “early action” actions. “The announcement has deep significance because this is the first country to submit a set of early actions that does not intend to participate actively at the talks,” said Roberto Friedberg, the leading climate adviser to President Michel Temer and a partner at the Walpole Foundation. But while the nation has been one of the very last nations to speak on the top issue at COP26, it has not shown a real willingness to turn this ambition into action.

Brazil is the sixth largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, and unlike many of its counterparts, it is not required to meet emissions-reduction targets. The country’s emissions have decreased slightly in recent years, but it still emits more than any other Latin American nation, and continues to receive poor grades from development economists. According to the UN, Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased in almost all sectors since 1990. Among the main reasons is that its coal-reliant economy has seen industrial growth grow faster than GDP, and that the country has fallen behind on renewables, despite the fact that it is among the top countries for wind and solar power. The country has also made little headway with its energy policy. For a country with a third of the planet’s land mass, just 20 percent of the country’s electricity comes from renewable sources such as hydro, and much of the rest comes from coal.

Brazil makes a big deal out of its commitment to exploring alternative energy sources, such as offshore wind or solar power, but its performance is poorer than almost any other developed country. Still, Brazil can boast one important political victory: bringing with it a sister government from Chile. Under the Cancun Agreement — a landmark pact that temporarily stopped global warming in 2008 and was created during the Mexican city’s Earth Summit — the two South American countries agreed to work toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent to 45 percent by 2020. No Latin American country has ever met its CO2 reduction goals, but Brazil stands a better chance, says Friedberg, because it doesn’t have as much to lose, relative to both the amount of greenhouse gases it emits and the way in which it is structured. “Because Brazil is still growing and has the potential to lower its emissions, it is in a better position than most other South American countries,” he says.

Brazil and Chile are the second and third highest greenhouse gas emitters among South American countries, trailing only Colombia. And while both countries can be expected to stick to their commitments, they aren’t on the same path, as the country continues to diversify away from fossil fuels and away from its coal-dependent economy. The good news is that their ambitious Paris agreement commitments make for a common future. Brazil agreed in the 2016 climate change agreement to reduce emissions 40 percent by 2030, compared to 2013 levels. In return, the host country, Poland, agreed to set up a single national greenhouse gas mitigation inventory, and increase spending on renewable energy to 8 percent of its total budget. The agreement that was signed in Paris has since been ratified by the European Union and Japan. But while the European Union has shown a willingness to accept carbon credits from states like Brazil as an efficient way to help reduce emissions, it remains to be seen whether Brazil’s embassy will support additional funds for carbon offsets.

Read the full story at Bloomberg.

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