While Brazil is one of the few developing countries that has put forward absolute emission reduction targets in their NDC, the CAT finds those target levels to be at the least ambitious end of a fair contribution to global mitigation, and not consistent with meeting the Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal unless other countries make much deeper reductions and comparably greater effort.
The recent economic recession has resulted in slower than expected emissions growth, with current policy projections estimated to be well below the 2020 Copenhagen pledge and in line with the NDC targets. However, due to the low ambition of the mitigation targets excluding the land use and forestry sector, emissions in most sectors could still rise until at least 2030, and still meet the NDC targets.
Recent developments in energy infrastructure planning and increasing deforestation levels, estimated to have added around 130 MtCO2 to total net emissions in 2016, are evidence of a worsening of Brazil’s national climate policy implementation, going in the opposite direction from what is needed to achieve the Paris Agreement goal. Budget cuts of 50% to the Environment Ministry and other areas raise issues of concern around the Government’s ability to monitor deforestation adequately.
Compared to other large developing countries, a positive aspect of Brazil’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) is that it puts forward an absolute target to limit its GHG emissions, namely a 37% and 43% reduction below 2005 levels by 2025 and 2030 including land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) (Government of Brazil, 2015); equivalent to 1.3 GtCO2e by 2025 and 1.2 GtCO2e by 2030 (GWP-100; IPCC AR5). However, taking into account that land use emissions decreased steeply between 2005 and 2012, thanks to policies to fight deforestation, the NDC targets effectively allow Brazil to increase its emissions excluding LULUCF 40% (35%) above 2005 levels by 2025 (2030), which is equivalent to more than 111% (104%) above 1990 levels.
We rate Brazil’s NDC “Insufficient” meaning that its targets are not consistent with holding warming to below 2°C, let alone limiting it to 1.5°C as required under the Paris Agreement, and if all countries were to follow Brazil’s approach, warming would reach over 2°C and up to 3°C. In addition, if all countries were to follow Brazil’s current policy settings, warming would reach over 2°C and up to 3°C.
The low ambition level of Brazil’s NDC targets together with a recent economic recession, which has resulted in slower than expected emissions growth, put the country on track to be well below its 2020 Copenhagen and reach emissions in line with its NDC targets without any additional effort. However, emissions in most sectors are expected to rise at least until 2030. Also the remarkable progress in forestry emissions mitigation seems to have stagnated, with deforestation emission increasing again in recent years. In order to peak emissions and rapidly decrease levels afterward as required by the Paris Agreement, Brazil will need to reverse the current trend of weakening of climate policy, by sustaining and strengthening policy implementation in the forestry sector and accelerating mitigation action in other sectors - including a reversal of present plans to expand fossil fuel energy sources.
 Brazil’s NDC target is based on the 2005 emissions level reported in the Second National Communication to the UNFCCC (2.1 GtCO2e; GWP-100; IPCC AR5). However in the latest GHG Inventory submission the estimates for emissions in the year 2005 are significantly higher (2.7 GtCO2e; GWP-100; IPCC SAR). Based on the new inventory, Brazil’s targets translate respectively to a 53% and 58% reduction below 2005 levels in 2025 and 2030, respectively.
Brazil officially ratified the Paris Agreement on September 21, 2016, committing thus to reduce emissions to 1.3 GtCO2e by 2025 and 1.2 GtCO2e by 2030 (Government of Brazil, 2015), as stated originally in its INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution), which is equivalent to 37% and 43% below 2005 emissions levels including LULUCF (GWP-100; IPCC AR5).
While the nominal reduction targets appear to be challenging and ambitious at first glance, after taking into account that the base year for the NDC targets (2005) was a year with particularly high emissions, the real target represents very little effort beyond current ambition levels. Between 2005 and 2012, LULUCF emissions decreased 86% in Brazil thanks to the successful implementation of anti- deforestation policies, resulting in a decrease of 55% in total net emissions in the same period. This means that the NDC effectively translate to a decrease of only 7% in emissions incl. LULUCF below 2012 levels by 2030.
The CAT assesses emissions excluding LULUCF, and shows emissions from LULUCF separately. We rate governments only based on emissions excluding the LULUCF sector. Taking into account the strong decrease observed in LULUCF emissions after 2005 and the projected emissions levels for this sector (REDD and Policy Assessment Centre, 2015), the CAT estimates that the NDC targets translate to an increase in non-LULUCF emissions above 2005 levels (GWP-100; IPCC SAR) of 40% in 2025 and 35% in 2030 (equivalent to 111% and 104% above 1990 levels [GWP-100; IPCC SAR]).
Copenhagen Pledge for 2020
Brazil was one of the first major developing countries to put forward an emissions reduction target with its Copenhagen pledge in January 2010. It committed to reducing its emissions incl. LULUCF by between 36.1% and 38.9% in 2020, compared to BAU emissions. This target is equivalent to a 117–134% increase on 1990 levels excl. LULUCF. The target was turned into national law in December 2010, which contained no conditionality on international funding, making it more stringent than Brazil’s international target (Presidência da República, 2010).
However, there was also a difference in the proposed BAU—it rose. Whereas Brazil’s Copenhagen Pledge suggested a BAU level of 2.7 GtCO2e/a by 2020, its national law includes a BAU level of 3.2 GtCO2e/a with the same percentage reduction. That translated into a 20% increase of 2020 emissions levels compared to the Copenhagen Pledge.
To achieve its pledge, Brazil has proposed a series of measures and policies targeting the LULUCF sector, and notably the government has committed to reducing annual deforestation rates by 80% below average levels 1996–2005 by 2020. By 2012, Brazil already achieved most of those reductions, leading to an abrupt and significant decrease in LULUCF emissions of about 86% from 2005–2012.
 On April 2016, the Brazilian government submitted a new GHG Inventory with revised historical data up to 2010 (Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation of Brazil, 2016b), which includes significant changes in historic data for the LULUCF sector compared with the last available data of the Second Biennial Report of Brazil to the UNFCCC (Ministry of Science and Technology of Brazil, 2014). For more details about the implications of the updated historic data for the emissions targets see Box 1 in CAT 2016 Brazil assessment.
We rate Brazil’s NDC for 2025 and 2030 as “Insufficient”. The “Insufficient” rating indicates that Brazil’s climate commitment in 2017 is not consistent with holding warming to below 2°C, let alone limiting it to 1.5°C as required under the Paris Agreement, and is instead consistent with warming between 2°C and 3°C. If all countries were to follow Brazil’s approach, warming would reach over 2°C and up to 3°C. This means Brazil’s climate commitment is at the least stringent end of what would be a fair share of global effort, and is not consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit, unless other countries make much deeper reductions and comparably greater effort.
If the CAT were to rate Brazil’s projected emissions levels in 2030 under current policies, Brazil would also be rated “Insufficient.”
For further information about the risks and impacts associated with the temperature levels of each of the categories click here.
According to our most recent assessment, with currently implemented policies Brazil will reach emissions levels in line with its NDC targets, with very modest mitigation outside the LULUCF sector in the last decade. After accounting for slower than expected emissions growth due to the recent economic recession, emissions (excluding LULUCF) are expected to reach of 1.079 MtCO2e in 2025 and 1.124 MtCO2e by 2030 (respectively, 30% and 35% above 2005 levels and 96% and 104% above 1990 levels). This means emissions will be slightly below the 2025 target and reach the 2030 target.
Recent economic and political turmoil has resulted in an economic recession and non-LULUCF emissions growing at a slower pace than in the last decade and even decreasing slightly in 2015. However, under currently implemented policies, emissions in most sectors are expected to rise at least until 2030 and the remarkable progress in forestry emissions mitigation observed over the last decade seems to have reached a stagnation point. Recent developments in energy infrastructure planning evidence a worsening of national climate policy implementation and ambition.
To contribute to a global peak emissions and decrease steeply afterwards in the next decades, as required under the Paris Agreement, Brazil will need to reverse its current trend of weakening climate policy by sustaining and strengthening policy implementation in the forestry sector, reversing present plans to expand fossil fuel energy sources, and accelerating mitigation action in other sectors.
The main policy instruments included in our current policy projections pathway are the energy efficiency national plans and the incentives for the uptake of renewables in the energy sector, including capacity auctions in the power sector and the ethanol and biodiesel mandates in the transport sector (IEA, 2016). Brazil has enacted other sectoral plans to reduce emissions in other sectors of the economy, including the Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change for a Low-Carbon Emission Agriculture (ABC Plan), the Steel Industry Plan, the Low Carbon Emission Economy in the Manufacturing Industry Plan, The Sectoral Transport and Urban Mobility Plan and the Low-Carbon Emission Mining Plan. Most of those policies and instruments, however, are still not part of national development planning and are therefore not included in our current policy projections emissions pathway. This section outlines the most recent policy developments in Brazil’s two largest emissions sectors – LULUCF and energy - and the different challenges ahead in each of those sectors.
Land Use and Land Use Change sector
Inventory emissions data available shows that the land use and forestry sector had been by far the largest source of GHG emissions in Brazil since the early 1990s. This picture changed significantly after 2004, when effective anti-deforestation policies, including the National Forest Code, the Action Plan for Deforestation Prevention and Control in the Legal Amazon (PPCDAm) and the Cerrado (PPCerrado), were implemented and resulted in a reduction on LULUCF emissions of about 86% between 2005 and 2012 (Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation of Brazil, 2016a). While this is a very positive development, the remarkable progress in forestry emissions mitigation seems to have stagnated, with deforestation emissions increasing again in recent years (Observatório do Clima, 2017b). Recent data shows that total deforestation increased almost 30% in 2016 compared to 2015 and more than 50% in the Amazon region (IPAM, 2017) (Observatório do Clima, 2017a). Experts have estimated that only deforestation has added around 130 MtCO2 to total net emissions in 2016 (Observatorio do Clima, 2016b), endangering the achievement of the national targets for the Paris Agreement, which include a target of zero illegal deforestation in the Brazilian Amazonia by 2030.
While it remains uncertain whether this increase in deforestation represents a spike or a reversal of the trend over the last decade,, local authorities have declared they lack the resources to control illegal deforestation in the entire national territory (Jornal Hoje, 2017). The enforcing capacity of national authorities could be worsened in the future due to sharp spending cuts under the recent fiscal austerity principle implemented as a response to the spiralling fiscal deficit. The Government recently cut the Environment Ministry budget by more than 50% (Climate Home, 2017), and this could affect the budgets of climate policy authorities the Ministry funds . This, combined with the economic recession that pushes low income populations to exercise deforestation as an economic activity, could result in growing deforestation emissions in the future, unless continuous efforts to maintain low levels of deforestation are made, and additional policies are implemented to achieve even lower levels (Observatorio do Clima, 2016a).
Energy supply sector
Brazil’s energy mix has been characterised by a high share of renewables, especially large hydroelectric generation in the electricity sector. However, mainly due to increasing transportation activity and fossil-fuel electricity generation, the energy sector is Brazil’s fastest growing emissions source (Observatório do Clima, 2017b). Taking into account that Brazil’s energy market is expanding and will continue to do so at least until 2030 (IEA, 2015), the renewable energy NDC targets of a 45% share in the primary energy mix and a 23% share of renewables (other than hydropower) in the power supply mix by 2030 would, if met, contribute to an improvement in Brazil’s carbon intensity.
However, plans to decarbonise the Brazilian power sector appear to be contradicted by recent policy developments. In fact, the share of fossil fuels in the Brazilian energy matrix is increasing while the share of renewable energy sources in the energy supply has been declining - from around 50% in the 1990s to only 39% in 2014 (Observatorio do Clima, 2016a). This trend has been driven by an increase in energy demand and some challenges the hydroelectric sector has faced in times of scarce water resources (US Energy Information Administration, 2016). Special concern is raised by the current government energy infrastructure planning, which seems to continue favouring fossil fuels, including coal and gas, as opposed to what is required under the Paris Agreement (Kuramochi et al., 2016).
To meet the increasing energy demand, the government is planning to diversify the energy mix and lower dependency on hydroelectric power by increasing investments in fossil fuels. The Ten-year Plan for Energy Expansion has planned an increase in the share of investments in fossil energy sources to 70.6% of total energy investments in 2024 (Ministério de Minas e Energia, 2015). Also in the second half of 2016 the senate approved a provision on a bill on electricity sector privatisation that could result in subsidies for the modernisation of the coal fleet and the addition of new coal plants from 2023 onwards (Senado Federal, 2016). Finally, the government sent negative signals to the wind and solar industry by cancelling its only reserve energy auction for wind and solar in December 2016, arguing for an expected power oversupply in the country (Reuters, 2016).
These recent developments may ultimately limit the options for long-term deep decarbonisation of the Brazilian economy as a consequence of unnecessarily locking in a high level of carbon-intensive energy infrastructure. Under current policy projections, the indicative NDC target of a 45% share of renewables in the total energy mix by 2030 will be underachieved and the share of renewables will stagnate at 43%. Unless additional policies are put in place, emissions in the energy sector will continue to rise in the coming decades (IEA, 2015), leaving the huge national potential for renewable power generation untapped.
Historical data until 2010 is based on the latest inventory data submitted to the UNFCCC (Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation of Brazil, 2016b). For historical data between 2010 and 2015 we use the most recent estimates of emissions from Observatório do Clima (Observatório do Clima, 2017b) and harmonise to the emissions levels from the Third National Communication. The only important difference between the two sources comes from the LULUCF sector, and is explained by the fact that Observatório do Clima is based on an old GHG inventory methodology that is not consistent with the one used for the third national communication due to lack of public data: " The methodological basis of the estimates of SEEG is the Brazilian Inventory of Anthropogenic Emissions and Removals of Greenhouse Gases, published by Ministry of Science and Technology (MCTI). For the Agricultural, Energy, Industrial Processes and Waste sectors SEEG used 3rd Inventory methodology, which underwent public consultation in 2014/2015 and is awaiting publication. As for Land Use Change was followed by the second Inventory methodology since without the publication of land cover transition maps It’s not possible to migrate to the new methodology" (Idem).
In the absence of a clear split between LULUCF and non-LULUCF emissions, the CAT estimates the NDC for Brazil on emissions excl. LULUCF as follows: We calculate the 37% and 43% reduction below 2005 levels suggested in the NDC (including LULUCF) and the subtract the most recently projected LULUCF values (REDD and Policy Assessment Centre, 2015) from these levels, after a harmonisation with historical data, in order to estimate the emissions reduction target excluding LULUCF.
BAU emissions were taken from the levels provided in the Decree No. 7390, of 2010 (Presidência da República, 2010), as basis for calculating the % reduction including LULUCF. The pledge excluding LULUCF was calculated by applying the target to total emissions and subtracting LULUCF levels in 2020 consistent with the achievement of the targets in the deforestation sector, which were calculated making use of the information provided in the Decree No. 7390 for the LULUCF sector.
Current policy projections
The current trend projections are based on the World Energy Outlook 2016 Current Policy scenario projections for CO2 only (IEA, 2016). For other CO2 emissions we assume the average growth rate of the last ten years will be maintained until 2030. For non-CO2 emissions we base our estimates on the US EPA projections until 2030 (US EPA, 2012). To ensure consistency we harmonise the results of our current policy projection to the last available historical data point. For the LULUCF pathway the quantification is based on the latest national projections (REDD and Policy Assessment Centre, 2015), after harmonisation with historic data.
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