Brazil releases national pledge while the list of INDC submissions grows

With COP-21 fast approaching, UNFCCC members have been accelerating the submission of their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. On September 28th Brazil issued its INDC, committing to decrease its GHG emissions by 37% below 2005 levels in 2025. The country also declared an indicative target of 43% reduction by 2030. Among Latin American countries, also Chile and Peru sent their national contributions in these days: Chile committed to a 30% reduction of its emission intensity below 2007 by 2030, while Peru pledged to decrease its emissions by 30% from Business-as-Usual Scenario. Both countries added further targets of reduction, to be achieved under conditions of international support.

With the Brazilian pledge, only India is missing to complete the picture of the ten major global emitters’ national contributions on mitigation. As President Rousseff highlighted, Brazil is the only major developing country commited to an absolute emissions reduction so far. Brazilian submission came few days after South African communication of its INDC, which however doesn’t present any quantitative emissions reduction obligation. South Africa, in fact, simply declares it will cooperate with the international community “to ensure temperature increases are kept well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels”, without stating specific mitigation commitments.

Among other BRICS, Brazil has already achieved significant progresses in reducing GHG emissions, primarily through avoided deforestation in the Amazon region. According to the CAIT Climate Data Explorer, total emissions from land use change and forestry (LUCF) decreased by 408 Mt CO2e  from 2005 to 2012, which means an estimated reduction of a third. In its recently released INDC, the country committed to completely eradicate illegal deforestation in the Brazilian Amazonia and to restore 12 million hectares of forests by 2030.

The falling trend in emissions from LUCF sector is compensated by an increase in the energy sector’s emissions. As the World Resurces Institute pointed out, the energy sector is currently the primary source of GHGs in Brazil, with transports and industry representing the major contributors to energy related emissions. According to the WRI, 71% of the energy investments planned for the 2014-2023 decade has been allocated to fossil fuels, thus demonstrating a persistent dependence on carbon intensive activities. In its national contribution, the country pledged to raise the use of renewable energy sources up to 45% of the overall energy mix by 2030, going beyond the provision of the US-Brazil Joint Statement on Climate Change agreed in late June. Brazil also committed to expand the share of non-hydropower renewables in the total energy mix to 28-33% and to obtain a 10% efficiency gains in the sector. As reported by the EIA, in 2012 the hydropower sector covered the 87% of renewable electricity net generation.

If Brazilian trajectory is followed as projected in the INDC, analysts forecast that the country can emerge as a climate policy leader, particularly among developing countries: it has already proven to play a central role in the international diplomatic scene among emerging countries; it benefits from a massive consumer market and a number of natural resources that can be efficiently used for a transition towards a clean economy; it accomplished notable results in the struggle against deforestation and it is an active part of both multilateral and bilateral initiatives against climate change. The pledge submitted to UNFCCC reveals Brazilian awareness of this potential leadership, particularly in South-South cooperation, noting for instance the frequent addresses to poverty eradication and the calls for equality, solidarity and human development.


(Image: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff Dilma speaking to journalists at UN Headquarters in New York about the targets and achievements of Brazil, September 28, 2015. Photo credit: United Nations on Flickr)