The Brazilian government has unveiled its ambitious plans for the UN climate talks, with the goal of slowing global warming to 2C – 2C is a critical threshold which scientists say will lead to major global impacts such as flooding, heatwaves and droughts.
Brazil is making a splash at the UN conference in Poland. The Brazilian government wants to be recognised as a global leader in fighting climate change, and is planning to introduce a new law in congress in January for controlling greenhouse gas emissions.
Brazil has already set a target of reducing emissions by 40% to 45% below 2005 levels by 2025 and is also exploring clean energy technology, including methane, CFCs and methane from forest fires. The bill, if passed, would establish national regulations to create low-carbon energy for 2030.
The proposed bill comes amid sharp cuts to the country’s public spending, prompted by an ongoing corruption investigation that has ensnared scores of politicians and executives at its state-run energy company.
These measures, the president, Michel Temer, said, would help Brazil achieve its 2C target within the framework of the UN’s Paris agreement and secure climate leadership.
In 2015, Brazil decided to meet the Paris agreement by reducing emissions, on both the industrial and agricultural side, by at least 40% by 2030.
Temer said that Brazil would be in compliance with the commitment even if it was not followed by the domestic law.
In addition to building on the successful cut in emissions over the last 15 years, the country intends to cut emissions in the energy sector by 50% by 2030.
Brazil aims to reduce energy consumption by 60% and build 2,500MW of renewable energy capacity within this period. One measure under discussion is the introduction of thermoelectric energy units, which allow the purchase of electricity from wood and other biomass.
Brazil’s global ranking in global carbon emissions fell from ninth to 15th last year, from 27 to 31st in 2015, and its contribution to the growth of global emissions is declining.
The country contributed just over half of the total global growth in carbon emissions in 1990, but was next to last in 2007. Between 2009 and 2013, it fell by about a third – the largest decrease among the largest ten emitters.
However, Brazil still has some way to go. Climate scientists estimate that deforestation in the Amazon is responsible for about 20% of greenhouse gas emissions.
The $4.7bn (£3.7bn) investment in the five-year environment protection plan – known as the Plan Espirito Santo – announced at the conference in Katowice comes on top of about $11bn allocated for other aspects of the plan.
Temer said the investment will target 17 of the most productive and environmentally damaging sections of the forest in 13 states.
Funding will be provided for community protected areas, forest health programmes, patrols, protection of local communities’ territories and infrastructure and construction of fishponds to control forest fires, among other projects.
A new law will also be introduced in congress to allow the state to establish territorial grids, which would allow the authorities to monitor and control forest expansion in a cost-effective manner.
Energy minister Ricardo Cabral said the network would cover more than 1m hectares in the Amazon and surpass the projected need of a similar grid by an order of magnitude.
The plan aims to cut deforestation from 50,000 sq km a year to under 20,000 sq km.