Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

The threat of political bargaining to climate mitigation in Brazil

Abstract

In exchange for political support, the Brazilian government is signalling landholders to increase deforestation, putting the country’s contribution to the Paris Agreement at risk1. The President of Brazil has signed provisionary acts and decrees lowering environmental licensing requirements, suspending the ratification of indigenous lands, reducing the size of protected areas and facilitating land grabbers to obtain the deeds of illegally deforested areas2. This could undermine the success of Brazil’s CO2 emission reductions through control of deforestation in the previous decade. Integrated assessment models are tools to assess progress in fulfilling global efforts to curb climate change3,4. Using integrated assessment models developed for Brazil, we explore 2 °C-compliant CO2 emission scenarios estimating the effort needed in other sectors of the economy to compensate for the weakening of environmental governance, potentially resulting in higher deforestation emissions. We found that the risk of reversals of recent trends in deforestation governance could impose a burden on other sectors that would need to deploy not yet mature technologies to compensate for higher emissions from land-use change. The abandonment of deforestation control policies and the political support for predatory agricultural practices make it impossible to meet targets consistent with Brazil’s contribution to a 2 °C world.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Deforestation rates.
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

References

  1. 1.

    Tollefson, J. Political upheaval threatens Brazil’s environmental protections. Nature 539, 147–148 (2016).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Tollefson, J. Brazil’s lawmakers renew push to weaken environmental rules. Nature 557, 17 (2018).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    van Vuuren, D. et al. Alternative pathways to the 1.5 °C target reduce the need for negative emission technologies. Nat. Clim. Change 8, 391–397 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Creutzig, V. et al. Towards demand-side solutions for mitigating climate change. Nat. Clim. Change 8, 268–271 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Estimativas Anuais de Emissões de Gases de Efeito Estufa no Brasil 3rd edn (Brazil Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia, Inovações e Comunicações, 2016); https://go.nature.com/2t0WWrO

  6. 6.

    Soares Filho, B. S. et al. Cracking Brazil’s forest code. Science 344, 363–364 (2014).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Crouzeilles, R., Feltran-Barbieri, R., Ferreira, M. S. & Strassburg, B. B. N. Hard times for the Brazilian environment. Nat. Ecol. Evol. 1, 1213 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Viola, E. & Franchini, M. Brazil and Climate Change: Beyond the Amazon (Routledge, New York, 2018).

  9. 9.

    Fearnside, P. Brazilian politics threaten environmental policies. Sci. Policy Forum 353, 746–748 (2016).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Portaria no. 68, 14 January 2017; http://go.nature.com/2u4gJFm

  11. 11.

    Medida Provisória no. 756, 19 December 2016; http://go.nature.com/2vhtste

  12. 12.

    Law no. 13.465, 11 July 2017; http://go.nature.com/2f7CbYj

  13. 13.

    Viola, E. & Franchini, M. Brazilian climate politics 2005–2012: ambivalence and paradox. WIRES Clim. Change 5, 677–688 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    PRODES – Monitoramento da Floresta Amazônica Brasileira por Satélite (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais database, 2017); http://www.obt.inpe.br/prodes/index.php

  15. 15.

    Messner, D., Schellnhuber, J., Rahmstorf, S. & Klingenfeld, D. The budget approach: a framework for a global transformation toward a low-carbon economy. J. Renew. Sustain. Energy 2, 031003 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Gignac, R. & Matthews, H. Allocating a 2 °C cumulative carbon budget to countries. Environ. Res. Lett. 10, 075004 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Rocha, M. et al. Analysis of Equitable Mitigation Contribution of Countries (Climate Analytics, 2015); http://climateanalytics.org/files/climate_analytics_report_sept_2015.pdf

  18. 18.

    Lucon, O., Romeiro, V. & Fransen, T. Bridging the Gap Between Energy and Climate Policies in Brazil —Policy Options to Reduce Energy-Related GHG Emissions (World Resources Institute, Washington DC, 2015).

  19. 19.

    Kanitkar, T., Jayaraman, T., D’Souza, M. & Purkayastha, P. Carbon budgets for climate change mitigation: a GAMS-based emissions model. Curr. Sci. 104, 1200–1206 (2013).

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    CD-LINKS Stocktaking/Fast-track Database (version 1.0) (CD-Links, 2016); https://go.nature.com/2HM208O

  21. 21.

    Soares Filho, B. S., Rajão, R., Merry, F., Rodrigues, H., Davis, J., Lima, L., Macedo, M., Coe, M., Carneiro, A. & Santiago, L. Brazil’s Market for Trading Forest Certificates. Plos One 11, e0152311 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Modelagem Setorial de Opções de Baixo Carbono para Agricultura, Florestas e Outros Usos do Solo (AFOLU) Technical Report (MCTIC, 2015); https://go.nature.com/2MpDIVJ

  23. 23.

    ADVANCE wiki; http://themasites.pbl.nl/models/advance/index.php/ADVANCE_wiki

Download references

Acknowledgements

The data of the energy system model, compiled in the Supplementary Information, follow the format and template of an international effort on climate and energy systems modelling, the so-called CD-Links project (www.cdlinks.org), where the BLUES model used in this study is registered. A.K., A.S., A.F.P.L., E.V. and R.S. received support from the Brazilian Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq). B.S.-F., J.L.D. and Ra.R. received support from the Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa de Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG), CNPq and the Humboldt Foundation. P.R.R.R. and Re.R. received support from the Brazilian Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES). The authors also thank B. Strassburg for some initial discussions on the subject of this study.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

A.S., A.F.P.L. and R.S. performed the basic integrated modelling and conceived the methodological procedure. A.K. and P.R.R.R. were responsible for the energy system modelling and the final writing of the Supplementary Information. B.S.-F., J.L.D. and Ra.R. performed the land-use modelling and contributed to writing the manuscript and the Supplementary Information. E.V. developed the political analysis and contributed to writing the manuscript and the Supplementary Information. Re.R. was responsible for the review of the land-use results.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Roberto Schaeffer.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Results, Supplementary Discussion, Supplementary References

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Rochedo, P.R.R., Soares-Filho, B., Schaeffer, R. et al. The threat of political bargaining to climate mitigation in Brazil. Nature Clim Change 8, 695–698 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-018-0213-y

Download citation

Further reading

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing