Environmental sustainability is vital for the harmonious and inclusive growth of the Brazilian economy and to leverage the advantages of the country in the global race to reach zero net carbon emissions, and the State’s action is taken horizontally and with adequate regulation increasingly relevant to achieve this potential.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SUSTAINABILITY FOR THE ECONOMY OF BRAZIL
September 2022 – We, former ministers of finance and former presidents of the Central Bank, reaffirm how central environmental sustainability and the fight against global warming are for Brazil’s economic and social success and global security, despite the challenges this agenda has recently faced in many parts of the world.
A Brazilian agenda of sustainability and fight against climate change must target the economic and social development of the country and include four conditions:
1. Zero deforestation in the Amazon, promoting the living conditions for local populations and reinforcing the country’s action in global climate decision-making forums.
2. Benefit from the comparative advantages of the country by advancing to the zero carbon economy in energy, mobility, industry and agriculture.
3. Increase the capacity to address climate anomalies by preparing the country for the expected impacts of global warming.
4. Boost funding for technological research and innovation to leverage renewable energies, the bioeconomy of living forests, biofuels and the sustainable use of the country’s natural and human resources.
The cost of global warming will increase greatly, especially for tropical countries. It will negatively affect the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth and dull the consolidation of the improvements in living standard achieved in recent decades, including in Brazil. Faced with this increasingly present risk, more than a hundred countries, including Brazil, have committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This commitment is critical and must be accompanied by actions to give them credibility, such as emission reduction targets for governments and companies for 2025 and 2030, and progress in mechanisms for their systematization, monitoring and verification.
Brazil can reach net zero before 2050, with benefits for economic activities and employment. Unlike most countries that rely heavily on fossil fuels, our renewable energy potential allows for competitive and accelerated electrification of the economy, attracting new investments to the country. In addition, our experience with biofuels allows us to use them as an energy source in electric (hybrid) vehicles that are relatively inexpensive to manufacture and easy to charge, as well as to compete in the world market of sustainable fuels for aviation.
Sustainability and the zero carbon target are sure to bring new opportunities to our technology centers, startups and investors. But the country will not have a sustainable and robust economy or reach net zero while there is deforestation in the Amazon.
Deforestation does not bring economic growth or social progress and is responsible for more CO2 emissions than all Brazilian productive sectors combined. It makes rainfall in the Midwest more uncertain, posing risks to agriculture and hydroelectric power generation and leading to irreversible losses of the ancestral habitats of indigenous and traditional populations.
Deforestation is also not necessary for the expansion of agriculture, whose production has increased strongly in years when deforestation dropped, and whose strength is in its increasing productivity. This productivity comes from investments, including the recovery and conversion of degraded pastures, which is becoming the true frontier of expansion of our agricultural production, saving the areas of original vegetation, even in the Brazilian Cerrado.
We also know that scientific-based commercial exploitation of the irreplaceable biodiversity of living forests is economically promising and raise up local knowledge. There are also millions of hectares of degraded land that, protected, can benefit from the natural or assisted regeneration of forests, becoming a legitimate source of quality carbon credits, backed by the removal of carbon from the atmosphere and whose negotiation in international markets will bring important benefits to some of the most deprived regions of the country.
The development of a regulated carbon market in Brazil is an increasingly pressing issue to stimulate energy efficiency and the transition to low carbon, valuing technological innovation and the competitiveness of our economy. Clear and verifiable rules as well as legal security are essential for this market to work.
Brazil has the technical capacity and natural resources to triumph over the new global economic environment based on the need to avoid global warming and achieve the sustainable development goals suffraged by many countries. This advantage is supported by the growing commitment of society and countless companies in Brazil to sustainability. However, Brazil’s success in this environment will depend – crucially – on the political priority and urgency that the next governments have on the sustainability agenda, the swift end of deforestation and actions towards a zero carbon economy.
Affonso Celso Pastore
Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira
Maílson da Nóbrega
Zélia Cardoso de Mello
A Convergência pelo Brasil é uma iniciativa idealizada pelo Instituto Clima e Sociedade (iCS) e Instituto O Mundo Que Queremos.
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