Brazil and the Climate Challenge: Ambitious Goals for a Complex Reality

 Brazil and the Climate Challenge: Ambitious Goals for a Complex Reality

In a significant move, the Brazilian Government has reaffirmed its commitment to environmental stewardship by updating its First Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in a recent announcement to the UNFCCC.

By Daniele Savietto

In a recent announcement to UNFCCC, the Brazilian Government has underscored its dedication to environmental stewardship by updating its First Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

The centerpiece of the document is Brazil’s pledge to achieve specific greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets by 2025 and 2030, with the ultimate aim of attaining climate neutrality by 2050. Notably, Brazil is committed to lowering its net emissions to 1.32 GtCO2e by 2025, marking a significant reduction of 48.4% compared to emissions levels in 2005.

By 2030, the objective is to achieve an even greater reduction in emissions, targeting 1.20 GtCO2e, which would constitute a 53.1% decrease compared to the levels of 2005.

Beyond these immediate and intermediate goals, the Brazilian government emphasizes its enduring commitment to attain climate neutrality by the year 2050.

The revision of Brazil’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) is a testament to its full alignment with the Paris Agreement. The level of ambition set by Brazil in its climate objectives surpasses the usual expectations for a developing nation, reflecting a balance of equity and adherence to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

Adaptation Policies and Sectoral Plans

The Brazilian government is actively engaged in updating its National Climate Change Policy, ensuring it aligns with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. This comprehensive revision process involves crafting a new, holistic Climate Change Plan. Central to this plan is a National Strategy for Mitigation, supplemented by detailed sector-specific mitigation strategies and a robust National Adaptation Strategy. Additionally, the plan will incorporate fourteen specialized plans for sectoral and thematic adaptation.

Moreover, this strategic plan is designed to cover a broad spectrum of objectives for climate action. These include addressing the socioeconomic challenges inherent in the transition to climate neutrality, fostering education, enhancing research, spurring development and innovation, and establishing effective implementation methods. It also focuses on developing reliable monitoring, evaluation, and transparency mechanisms and devising strategies to manage losses and damages related to extreme environmental events.

But What’s the Ground Reality?

These ambitious targets showcase Brazil’s commitment to playing a significant role in global climate mitigation efforts, marked by a high level of ambition, especially notable given Brazil’s status as a developing nation. Yet, from the standpoint of civil society, a crucial question emerges: What are the tangible plans for Brazil to fulfill these targets?

Brazil grapples with substantial challenges that stand in the way of these climate goals. Key among these are rampant deforestation and forest degradation, posing significant hindrances. Furthermore, influential sectors in the Brazilian economy, notably agriculture, livestock, and mining, which also have strong representation in Congress, are substantial contributors to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Moreover, the management of Petrobras, the state behemoth in the oil and gas industry, is a pivotal concern. WWF reports indicate that Petrobras accounted for the emission of 47.7 million tons of carbon dioxide in total operations. Notably, 93% of this, or 44.3 million tons, came from oil and natural gas exploration and production activities, including refining and maritime transport.

Recent critiques, like the one from Clima Info, have pointedly assessed Petrobras’ business strategy (PN 2024-2028), particularly its investment forecast for the coming five years. Alarmingly, a mere 11% of this budget is earmarked for energy transition and decarbonization.

Furthermore, Petrobras’ ongoing endeavors to secure a license for oil exploration at the Amazon River’s mouth, as Clima Info highlights, poses potential negative impacts on eight countries.

Confronting these challenges and contradictions, the path to achieving climate neutrality by 2050 seems daunting, if not utopian. Hence, at COP28, our imperative mission is to advocate for Brazil to demonstrate a real and practical alignment between its proclaimed climate objectives and the concrete actions planned for implementation.

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