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Multi-sector movement defends Brazil’s ambitious contribution to the Climate Conference

The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture (Coalizão Brasil)insists that Brazil can be highly ambitious in its contribution (INDC) to the global climate change agreement, which will be signed in Paris this December. One of the main events in the run-up to the historic agreement will take place in New York next week, when President Dilma Rousseff promises to launch the Brazilian INDC.

São Paulo, September 30, 2015 – The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture (Coalizão Brasil) – a movement that brings companies, civil society organizations, research centers and sectoral entities together – understands that Brazil can establish an ambitious INDC, with goals that are tangible, inspiring and mobilizing for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, COP-21, taking place in Paris in December. The INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) is a document stating what each country intends to do to reduce and remove GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions. President Dilma Rousseff is expected to announce Brazil’s INDC next week in New York during Climate Week, which will bring together political, business and civic leaders from around the world.

The Coalition believes that Brazil can and should commit to eliminating its net carbon emissions as soon as possible, as part of a global effort in which developed economies reach zero levels by mid-century. This becomes feasible as the country makes inroads into the various sectors of the economy. Brazilian agriculture, for example, has the potential to make ongoing reductions to GHG emissions.

“The key measure is to invest in the regeneration of degraded and low-productivity areas to expand production”, said Luiz Carlos Carvalho, Chairman of Abag (Associação Brasileira do Agronegócio [Brazilian Agribusiness Association]). “With widespread implementation of available technologies (e.g. crop-livestock-forest and crop-livestock integration), Brazilian agriculture could potentially reduce projected emissions for 2030 by 50% in comparison to 2013 levels, with a 30% increase in production in the sector”, stressed Mauricio Voivodic, Executive Secretary of Imaflora.

The Plano ABC (ABC Plan – Sectoral Plan for Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change for the Consolidation of a Low-Carbon Economy in Agriculture) suggests more modest levels but it is undoubtedly an essential resource for making this goal a reality. “The Plano ABC must be prioritized as a primary national agricultural policy”, explained Gustavo Junqueira, Chairman of the Sociedade Rural Brasileira (Brazilian Rural Society), another organization participating in the Coalition. According to Junqueira, “in order for producers to adopt the plan and support advances in its implementation, it is necessary to clearly disseminate the results of mitigating GHG emissions and the economic benefits of managing rural activities.”

Contributions from the forest and agricultural sectors

“The sector associated with land-use is responsible for two-thirds of Brazil’s gross GHG emissions and therefore has great potential to implement effective mitigation initiatives”, said Tasso Azevedo, Coordinator of the SEEG (Greenhouse Gas Emission Estimate System). The Coalition has therefore been analyzing and endorsing initiatives that can aid Brazil in eliminating its net emissions and contribute to addressing climate issues. Additionally, the land-use sector will help to establish and disseminate real agricultural economics and sustainable forestry models, including to other countries.

As such, the effective application of the Forest Code includes advances in the climate agenda. “Full implementation of the Planaveg (National Native Vegetation Recovery Plan), in line with the application of other forest legislation, is key to regenerating up to 20 million hectares of forest, which could generate sequestration of over one billion tons of carbon and other relevant environmental services, driving a new forest economy”, said Rachel Biderman, Director of WRI Brasil (World Resources Institute). The finalization of the Rural Environmental Register (Cadastro Ambiental Rural, CAR), provided for in the Code, is urgent and will allow the exact numbers to be recovered to be determined.

“It is essential for properties and landscapes to be planned in an integrated manner, with participation from the various sectors. Brazil can be an example to the world when it comes to protecting and regenerating Permanent Preservation Areas, such as springs and riparian forests”, said Miriam Prochnow, Executive Secretary of Diálogo Florestal (The Brazilian Forests Dialogue). The organization of forest activity brings other additional benefits. “One cannot forget that abiding by the Forest Code also means eliminating Brazilian production chains or products resulting from illegal deforestation and illegal exploitation of forest timber resources and, in the medium term, voluntarily, any deforestation, which would signal another huge gain”, emphasized Mauro Armelin, Conservation Director for WWF-Brasil.

Another important point is that establishing reference levels for an increase in multiple-use forest stocks, under national REDD+ strategies, would encourage forest preservation and economics. The acronym refers to a financial mechanism and means reducing greenhouse gas emissions resulting from deforestation and forest degradation, forest management, maintenance and increased carbon stock. “In addition to fighting deforestation, the REDD+ system could effectively support the regeneration of degraded areas and an increased timber supply through sustainable management of native or planted forests, removing the GHGs present in the atmosphere”, said Roberto Waack, Chairman of the Board of the company Amata.

Pricing Mechanisms

The Coalition recommends that Brazil support international discussions on carbon pricing at COP-21. “Existing mechanisms can be improved and new regulatory or market mechanisms created to accelerate the transition to low-carbon economic solutions”, said José Penido, Chairman of the Board of Fibria Celulose. Carbon credits from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) generated in pre- and post-2020 periods, for example, could contribute to meeting targets under the COP21 agreement. “We insist that Brazil,in its INDC, guarantee market mechanisms. At this time in particular, with the new global agreement in which there will no longer be a divide between Annex 1 countries and others, all will be eligible to use the same methodology”, said Elizabeth Carvalhaes, Executive Chairman of Ibá (Brazilian Tree Industry).

“We are facing great change”, said Marina Grossi, president of Cebds (Brazilian Council for Sustainable Development) and a representative of We Mean Business. “The Coalition expects new mechanisms that will enhance our forests and agriculture as part of a new economy to be established in Brazil and worldwide, encouraging renewable energy generation and discouraging the production of primary carbon emitters. It would be a great business solution”, she concluded.

Another measure to encourage legal and sustainable forest management is the creation of an efficient system or payments for environmental services. “Direct payments to those responsible for maintaining and regenerating forests and other ecosystems would be made, based on new sources of funding and not subject to compensatory mechanisms”, stated Beto Mesquita, Director of Land Strategy at Conservation International.

It is worth noting that within the Coalition there are also experts dedicated to analyzing the Brazilian energy matrix. “After all, we need to promote a national policy that values the production of biofuels and bioenergy, as well as initiatives to encourage their ongoing growth here and in the rest of the world”, stressed Elizabeth Farina, Chief Executive of Unica (Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association). “COP-21 is an opportune time for us to return to an appropriate public and taxation policy in our country, which recognizes the positive external effects of renewable energy and acts as a benchmark for other economies.”

Level of INDC ambition

The Coalition’s contributions to the Brazilian INDC were established based on the convergence and common aspirations of leaders with different inclinations. Four principles underpinned this work: a long-term vision for reducing GHG emissions; definition of a fair share for Brazil’s contribution to this global effort; proposal of a logical basis for the level of ambition in reducing the country’s emissions; and proposing mechanisms, elements and incentives to fulfill the commitments to be made at COP-21.

Based on these principles, the Coalition proposes that Brazil include the following in its INDC:

Implementation of these initiatives is linked to: access to public policies and real incentives; carbon pricing initiatives; emerging economies undertaking similar commitments to Brazil’s in the long-term; developed countries committing themselves to zero net emissions by 2050.

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