Total carbon dioxide emissions from Brazil, 1990-2016. Graphic: SEEG Brasil

By Claire Salisbury
9 November 2017

(Mongabay) – In 2012, Brazil celebrated a dramatic reduction in its deforestation rate. A sharp annual decline took forest loss to a record low, down 76 percent from 1990. Accomplishing this milestone — achieved alongside GDP growth and a major financial incentive scheme for reducing deforestation in collaboration with Norway — Brazil was hailed as an example for other nations to aspire to, especially during the landmark 2015 climate summit in Paris.

Today, that situation is largely reversed. Deforestation in Brazil rose rapidly and alarmingly in 2015-16, while Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions shot up by 8.9 percent in 2016. And though deforestation saw a measured decline in 2016-17, policymakers remain worried by an “exceedingly dangerous” suite of initiatives pushed forward over the last 12 months by President Michel Temer. They are so worried, in fact, that in June Norway threatened to withdraw financial support for Brazil’s deforestation effort if the nation didn’t reverse its flood of anti-environmental measures.

A major point of concern: will Donald Trump’s U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement provide Temer with political cover to disregard Brazil’s voluntary carbon reduction and deforestation commitments? This is a question that will likely be on negotiators’ minds this week and next as the world’s Paris signatories gather for the COP23 summit in Bonn, Germany, from Nov. 6-17.

Taken all together, Temer’s anti-environmental measures pose a serious threat to the Amazon biome, Brazil’s commitments to the Paris Agreement, and to the global climate, according to the scientists interviewed for this story.

President Temer came to power in May 2016, having helped engineer the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. Since then, he has issued a rush of decrees aimed at facilitating large-scale agricultural and industrial development in the Amazon, something the agribusiness lobby that dominates Congress — and whose support Temer needs to sustain him as he comes under increasing scrutiny for corruption — is eager to promote.

Temer’s administration includes the influential minister of agriculture, Blairo Maggi, once known as the “Soy King” and famed for his management of the family company, the Amaggi Group, the largest private producer of soybeans in the world. Maggi is part of the bancada ruralista (the ruralist lobby), whose supporters include 40 percent of the Brazilian Congress.

Temer’s initiatives are “a disaster in the making for the Amazon,” said Christian Poirier, program director at Amazon Watch, an NGO. “If Temer’s agenda moves forward it will change the face of this life-giving forest, with major repercussions for climate stability and our collective well-being.”

William Laurance, of James Cook University, Australia, agreed, and told Mongabay that the president’s measures are “exceedingly dangerous” and “essentially an assault on the Amazon and its indigenous peoples.”  [more]

From carbon sink to source: Brazil puts Amazon, Paris goals at risk


Total carbon dioxide emissions from Brazil, 1990-2016. Graphic: SEEG Brasil

By Jenny Gonzales
7 November 2017

(Mongabay) – In December 2015 as part of the Paris Agreement, Brazil pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 37 percent by 2025 as compared to 2005 levels. However, it increased its emissions by 8.9 percent in 2016 over the previous year, according to just released figures — significantly distancing the country, the world’s seventh biggest carbon emitter, from its Paris goal. [Des makes the average annual increase to be about 13.4 million tons CO2e since 1990.]

Brazil released 2.278 billion gross tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2016, compared with 2.091 billion gross tons in 2015. The 2016 total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were the second highest since 2008 (2.806 billion gross tons).

Pará, in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, was the highest emitter state, accounting for 12.3 percent of the total, followed by Mato Grosso (9.6 percent), which has converted much of its forest to soy production. Those two states were followed in turn by Minas Gerais (9.3 percent), Bahia (8.7 percent) and São Paulo (7 percent).

The statistics are part of a new edition of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimates System (SEEG), released at the end of October by the Climate Observatory (OC), a national civil society network reporting climate change data. The estimates were produced according to precise United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC) guidelines and based on Brazilian Inventories of Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Removals recorded by the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications (MCTIC).

The United Nations Environment Programme, in its Emission Gap Report 2017 (also released in October), which updated Paris carbon pledges by the world’s nations found that “recent studies assessed suggest that Brazil … [is] likely to — or [is] roughly on track to — achieve [its] 2030 NDC [Intended Nationally Determined Contribution] targets with currently implemented policies.” That document, however, makes no mention of the recent SEEG report showing a sharp upsurge in emissions for Brazil in 2016. Experts also warn that achieving the Paris goal will be made even more challenging once the impacts of President Michel Temer’s recent flood of pro-agribusiness decrees begin to be felt.

Surprisingly, the 2016 rise in GHG emissions occurred amid one of the country’s worst financial crises and economic downturns. Last year, Brazil’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell 3.6 percent, and in 2015 GDP fell 3.8 percent. Declines in GDP usually herald decreases in GHG emissions. However, in Brazil, the cumulative increase of emissions for the two years of economic crisis was 12.3 percent

Commenting on these numbers, Carlos Rittl, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory, said: “We have the worst climate headline of the planet: increased emissions due to unbridled forest destruction, and totally dissociated from the economy. The country, [now attending] the COP23 [summit] is already a risk to the goals of the Paris Agreement.” [more]

As negotiators meet in Bonn, Brazil’s carbon emissions rise

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