Agriculture, deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and local/regional climate change have been closely intertwined in Brazil. Recent studies show that this relationship has been changing since the mid 2000s, with the burgeoning intensification and commoditization of Brazilian agriculture. On one hand, this accrues considerable environmental dividends including a pronounced reduction in deforestation (which is becoming decoupled from agricultural production), resulting in a decrease of ∼40% in nationwide greenhouse gas emissions since 2005, and a potential cooling of the climate at the local scale. On the other hand, these changes in the land-use system further reinforce the long-established inequality in land ownership, contributing to rural–urban migration that ultimately fuels haphazard expansion of urban areas. We argue that strong enforcement of sector-oriented policies and solving long-standing land tenure problems, rather than simply waiting for market self-regulation, are key steps to buffer the detrimental effects of agricultural intensification at the forefront of a sustainable pathway for land use in Brazil.
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We thank E.L. Dalla Nora, A.O. Manzi and K.-H. Erb for their helpful comments on the manuscript.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Lapola, D., Martinelli, L., Peres, C. et al. Pervasive transition of the Brazilian land-use system. Nature Clim Change 4, 27–35 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2056
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