Brazil Sets Another 
Record for 
Emissions Reduction Record

2 December 2010

ECO has noticed that there’s a lot of talk in the UNFCCC meetings about what countries will promise, pledge, commit to, and otherwise say that they’re really, really going to do.
Much less frequently do we hear that countries are actually achieving emissions reductions. That adds to the pleasure of seeing the announcement yesterday that Brazil’s deforestation rate has fallen to another record low level. The reduction in Amazon deforestation, from over 27,000 km2 in 2004 to below 6,500 km2 this year, is in fact the largest reduction in emissions made by any country anywhere on the planet. And so Brazil, a tropical developing country, has already done what the biggest industrial powers in the world have simply promised to as long as a decade from now.
According to calculations by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Brazil’s reduction deforestation emissions in the past five years, from the 1996-2005 average that serves as its baseline, amounts to 870 million tonnes of CO2 annually. How big is that? Well, the EU’s pledge of a 20% reduction by 2020 corresponds to just below 850 million tonnes, and the US pledge of a 17% reduction (below 2005, not 1990) is about 1,200 million tonnes.
Brazil originally set a goal of reducing deforestation 80% by 2020.  But since it has already achieved 67%, outgoing President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva recently moved that date up to 2016.
Brazilian NGOs have shown that their country can and should  do better than that. A broad coalition of civil society groups is pushing for a reduction to zero and by 2015. The new data prove that this goal is clearly feasible. The incoming administration of President-elect Dilma Rousseff should adopt it so as to continue Brazil’s global leadership on climate.
The struggle to eliminate deforestation has not been easy, and by no means is it over. In fact, there’s now a backlash led by agricultural interests in the Brazilian Congress against the Forest Code, whose enforcement has been an important tool to reduce deforestation.
A recent study by the Observatorio do Clima coalition has shown how the proposed amendments to the Forest Code would create loopholes that could increase emissions very substantially. If they are not rejected, the Brazilian government’s climate leadership will be called into question.
Brazil’s progress, not only because of government policies but also strong and continuing pressure from Brazilian civil society, emphasizes the need to adopt a strong REDD+ decision as part of a balanced package here in Cancun. But more than that, it demonstrates the importance of countries taking action now, rather than using the inaction of neighbors as an excuse. It’s time for the Annex 1 countries to go beyond promises and start acting to reduce emissions dramatically and rapidly, they sure can too.
Bem feita, Brasil!

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