13 Feb 2013

Brazilian Climate Policy since 2005: Continuity, Change and Prospective

Eduardo Viola

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In the five-year period 2005-09, Brazil has dramatically reduced carbon emissions by around 25% and at the same time has kept a stable economic growth rate of 3.5% annually. This combination of economic growth and emissions reduction is unique in the world. The driver was a dramatic reduction in deforestation in the Amazonian forest and the Cerrado Savannah. This shift empowered the sustainability social forces in Brazil to the point that the national Congress passed (December 2009) a very progressive law internalising carbon constraints and promoting the transition to a low-carbon economy. The transformation in Brazil’s carbon emissions profile and climate policy has increased the potentialities of convergence between the European Union and Brazil.

The first part of this paper examines the assumption on which this paper is based, mainly that the trajectory of carbon emissions and climate/energy policies of the G20 powers is much more important than the United Nations multilateral negotiations for assessing the possibility of global transition to a low-carbon economy. The second part analyses Brazil’s position in the global carbon cycle and public policies since 2005, including the progressive shift in 2009 and the contradictory dynamic in 2010-12. The final part analyses the potential for a transition to a low-carbon economy in Brazil and the impact in global climate governance.

Eduardo Viola is full Professor at the Institute of International Relations and Coordinator of the Climate Change and International Relations Research Programme, University of Brasilia and Senior Researcher at the Brazilian Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). This working paper was prepared in the context of the CEPS-FRIDE project on the EU-Brazil Strategic Partnership, funded by Gulbenkian Foundation.