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The threat of political bargaining to climate mitigation in Brazil


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.

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Fig. 1: Deforestation rates.
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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 (, 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




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.

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Correspondence to Roberto Schaeffer.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Results, Supplementary Discussion, Supplementary References

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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).

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