Paris Agreement targets
On 9 December 2020, Brazil submitted its updated NDC, confirming its existing target for the year 2025 (a 37% reduction in emissions below 2005 levels), and committing to its previously indicative target for 2030 (a 43% reduction in emissions from 2005 levels). The submission also emphasises the NDC’s compatibility with an “indicative objective of reaching climate neutrality in 2060”, but with the caveat that Brazil’s long-term strategy is conditional on the receipt of financial transfers.
Brazil’s updated NDC appears to be simply a reconfirmation of existing targets, albeit with a shift in its 2030 target from “indicative” to “committed”. However, an update in the base year emissions in Brazil’s greenhouse gas inventory has led to a substantial weakening of both targets. While the former NDC had translated both emissions reduction targets into absolute emissions in 2025 and 2030, the updated NDC does not provide such a translation. Instead, it specifies that the base year emissions level can be found in Brazil’s Third National Communication. Our calculations show that the change in base year emissions data raises target emissions in 2025 and 2030 by over 400 MtCO2eq, pushing them well above our current policy projections. Rather than enhancing Brazil’s NDC to take changes in the base year into account, the current administration has used its inventory update weaken its targets.
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 from the NDC base year, 2005, to 2012, and the government’s own projections for future LULUCF emissions (Ministério da Ciência Tecnologia Inovações e Comunicações Brasil, 2017), the CAT estimates that the updated NDC target gives the government ample room to raise its emissions over the next five years: the target level in 2030, excluding LULUCF, is about 130% higher than 1990 levels, and 27% higher than they were when Brazil ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016.
Against a backdrop of rising emissions from deforestation, a record-breaking year for forest fires in the Amazon, and increasing international scrutiny over Brazil’s climate action, the Brazilian government has also dropped all reference to stopping illegal deforestation, restoring forests and enhancing native forest management.
Brazil’s NDC calls for receiving US$10 billion a year from 2021 to address its climate change-related challenges, including the conservation of its native vegetation, in particular the rainforest. However, it is not clear whether - and to what extent - Brazil’s NDC targets are conditional on receiving such finance. With market trends already driving increased uptake of renewable energy, a sizeable portion of Brazil’s mitigation needs should be affordable domestically, with international climate finance used to support mitigation in harder-to-abate sectors.
The CAT rates Brazil’s 2030 target as "Highly insufficient" when rated against modelled domestic pathways ("internationally supported target"), and "Critically insufficient" when rated against the fair share contribution ("fair share target"). Brazil does not specify a conditional target, so we rate the unconditional target against the two rating frameworks.
Last updated: September 2021
Brazil has submitted an updated Paris Agreement NDC that effectively weakens its already insufficient climate action targets for 2025 and 2030. Brazil’s targets to reduce emissions by 37% and 43% from 2005 levels by 2025 and 2030 respectively are unchanged on paper, but an increase in the base year emissions used as a reference means that Brazil can continue to increase its emissions and still meet its targets. We rate Brazil’s 2030 target as “Highly insufficient” when compared to global least-cost pathways.
The “Highly insufficient” rating indicates that Brazil’s target in 2030 leads to rising, rather than falling, emissions and is not at all consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit. If all countries were to follow Brazil’s approach, warming could reach over 3°C and up to 4°C.
This rating takes into account that Brazil would need international support for a fraction of the actions required to be consistent with the Paris agreement 1.5 °C limit. As Brazil has not submitted a conditional target, we rate the unconditional target here.
We rate Brazil’s unconditional 2030 climate target from December 2020 as “Critically insufficient” when compared with its fair-share contribution to climate action. We refer to this as Brazil’s “fair share target” rating. The “Critically insufficient” rating indicates that Brazil’s target in 2030 reflects minimal to no action and is not at all consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit. Brazil’s target is not in line with any interpretation of a fair approach to meeting the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit, and if all countries were to follow Brazil’s approach, warming would exceed 4°C
In our previous assessment, we rated Brazil’s previous NDC target as “Insufficient” with respect to its fair share. The downgrading of Brazil’s fair share rating is because Brazil’s updated NDC leads to higher emissions in 2030 than its previous target.
It is worth noting that our previous rating for Brazil was strongly influenced by data based on studies that included emissions from land use and forests. In our methods update we excluded such studies for countries where land use and forest emissions are high because the results aren’t comparable to those excluding LULUCF. Due to this update, the lower end of the fair share range shifted significantly from negative to positive levels, and the fair share range narrowed. The old NDC target for 2030 would have been rated “Almost sufficient” against the updated fair share contribution, an improvement compared to the old rating of “Insufficient”. Conversely, the updated NDC target for 2030 was rated as “Highly insufficient” under our previous fair share calculations, but in is now rated as “Critically insufficient” under the updated system.
Further information on how the CAT rates countries (against modelled domestic pathways and fair share) can be found here.
2020 NDC update
Brazil has submitted an updated NDC, but did not strengthen its previous targets.
Brazil’s targets to reduce emissions by 37% and 43% from 2005 levels by 2025 and 2030 respectively are unchanged on paper, but an increase in the base year emissions used as a reference means that Brazil can continue to increase its emissions and still meet its targets. The government has also dropped all reference to stopping illegal deforestation, restoring forests and enhancing native forest management in the NDC.
Net zero and other long-term target(s)
As part of their updated NDC submission in December 2020, Brazil set an indicative goal of reaching net zero by 2060 (Government of Brazil, 2020). This target is conditional on the receipt of financial transfers. The NDC states that reaching net zero by 2050 may be possible if the Paris Agreement’s market mechanisms function properly, without specifying what is meant by a “properly functioning market”. The Brazilian government has been widely reported to be pushing for market mechanism rules under the Paris Agreement that many other countries deem unacceptable. In April 2021, President Bolsonaro announced Brazil’s aim to achieve net zero by 2050 as part of the 2021 Leaders' Climate Summit (Spring & Paraguassu, 2021).
Brazil neither provided specific information in its NDC nor after the announcement at the Summit. An assessment of the net zero target remains impossible given the preliminary status of net zero announcement, so we evaluate Brail’s net zero target as: Target information incomplete.
For the full analysis click here.
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 172–188% 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 increased. 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.
The Brazilian government has claimed the achievement of the 2020 LULUCF pledge three years ahead of time (Observatório do Clima, 2018). While the statement is factually true, there are a number of caveats that should be considered:
- Brazil had already achieved most of the deforestation reductions of the 2020 pledge in 2012 (see also our previous assessments). Since then, LULUCF emissions have started increasing again.
- The BAU emissions pathway used as reference for the 2020 pledge assumes very high emissions. The BAU pathway itself is based on an inflated projection, making an assumption of 5% annual GDP growth after 2010 (Presidência da República, 2010), which is far above actual developments (The World Bank, 2017).
- 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. These reductions are far from being achieved according to recent government figures. For instance, the 80% deforestation reduction in the Amazon specified in the Decree would mean 3,907 km² deforested per year, but in 2019 over 10,000 km² were lost (INPE, 2020).
- The reversal in LULUCF policies by the government, is projected to have negative consequences for deforestation, potentially causing Brazil to miss its 2020 and NDC deforestation targets by a large margin (Rochedo et al., 2018; Soterroni et al., 2018). To illustrate this effect on future emissions, we have included in our main graph an alternative projection for LULUCF emissions, produced by national experts, which assumes a continued weakening of environmental governance (Rochedo et al., 2018). We have harmonised this projection to Brazil’s latest historical data. The projection clearly shows that Brazil’s LULUCF emissions could rise above the 2020 target emissions level a few years after 2020, reversing the benefits of the target.