WITH THE 10TH largest economy and fifth largest population in the world, Brazil is an important enac-
through a "savannization" process in which increases in temperature and decreases in soil moisture may lead to the gradual replacement of the tropical forest by vegetation similar to that in Brazil's savannahs. This savannization will be accompanied by possible extinction of species and loss of biodiversity. Drier weather may also increase the frequency of forest fires in the region, which, in turn, would contribute to further CO2 emissions.
Other possible negative impacts include coastal cities and coral reefs being affected by rising sea levels, the expansion of vectorborne diseases, and possible increases in the frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters, such as flooding and cyclones. One sector of special concern is agriculture, because of its critical importance to Brazil's economy, and because of its role in the country's biofuel programs, essential to meeting mitigation goals for CO2 emissions. Regarding human vulnerability to climate change, although, overall, Brazil fares relatively well when compared to other countries, the high level of socioeconomic inequality and large pockets of poverty suggest that significant portions of the population may be highly vulnerable to climate change and will need specific policies to increase their levels of adaptive capacity.
Brazil's climate policy, both domestic and international, has been, at times, aggressively proactive (as with the design and pursuit of Clean Development Mechanisms, or CDMs) and remarkably reactionary (as in the government's reluctance to support initiatives to curb deforestation as part of its climate policy portfolio). Brazil has been a leader in the Kyoto negotiations to introduce carbon-trading mechanisms such as CDMs, which allow for developed countries and businesses to count greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions generated by projects carried out in less developed countries (LDCs). Currently, Brazil is the country hosting the largest number of CDM projects.
Brazil has also sought to block initiatives to subject LDCs to stringent carbon emission reduction targets. Brazilian government representatives have been particularly sanguine in defending the historical contribution argument, which maintains that, because carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for more than a century, on average, climate change has been primarily caused by early polluters, or developed coun tries, that should be responsible for its mitigation. Another argument against emission targets for LDCs is that these countries have a long way to go to reach levels of per capita carbon consumption comparable to current levels of developed countries, and, therefore, should be exempt from carbon emission caps in the near/mid-term.
The Brazilian government has been particularly sensitive to any mitigation scheme that involves the Amazon rainforest, and has been reluctant to endorse initiatives such as Avoided Deforestation, which is supported by a coalition of conservation interests and rainforest-rich countries. This scheme would allow developing countries to participate in the Kyoto Protocol by electing to reduce their national emissions from deforestation. Forest-rich countries would be allowed to issue carbon certificates, similar to the Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) of the CDM that could be sold to governments or private investors.
Domestically, Brazil has invested substantially in an energy matrix reliant on renewable resources. Brazil's flagship biofuel program is based on sugarcane and dual-fuel car technology (cars run on sugarcane alcohol and/or gasoline). The sugarcane biofuel program is worth over $8 billion a year and generates a million direct jobs. Brazil's bio-diesel program is based on oil seeds such as castor and sunflower crops that produce clean energy, absorb carbon monoxide, and are labor intensive.
SEE ALSO: Clean Development Mechanism; Deforestation; Forests.
BIBLIOGRAPHY. M.S. Krol and A. Bronstert, "Regional Integrated Modeling of Climate Change Impacts on Natural Resources and Resource Usage in Semi-Arid Northeast Brazil," Environmental Modelling & Software (v.22, 2007); W.F. Laurance, "A New Initiative to Use Carbon Trading for Tropical Forest Conservation," Biotropica (v.39/1, 2007); G. Marland et al., Global, Regional, and National CO2 Emissions (U.S. Department of Energy, 2007); C.A. Nobre et al., "Mudanzas Climáticas e Amazonia, Ciéncia e Cultura," SBPC (v.59, 2007); S. Solomon et al., eds., Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Cambridge University Press, 2007); L.F.S. Velasquez et al., "Climate Change
Consequences on the Biome Distribution in Tropical South America," Geophysical Research Letters (v.34, 2007).
Renno Nilton University of Michigan
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