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What to expect from Brazil in Paris climate agreement

Brazilian contributions are focused on the agricultural, forestry and land use change sectors. This makes sense, since the country has 12% of the world’s forests and is a leading producer of food. The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture analyzes the Brazilian INDC and highlights the role of global society to boost joint action towards a new economic and social model.

São Paulo, December 1, 2015 – The World Conference on Climate (COP 21) should provide a document filled with ideas and fundamental actions to combat greenhouse gases (GHG). However, it’s necessary to look forward. The future of the planet that will be discussed in Paris must be very different from the one that man has built in the industrial age. Heads of state, negotiators and ordinary citizens need to boost effective changes to a new economic and social model. Based on the decarbonisation of productive activities, this model needs to be more inclusive, fair and sustainable.

For this, The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture — a multi-sector movement formed by over 100 companies, entities, civil society organizations and research centers in Brazil — will be present in the COP, bringing dozens of representatives and promoting a series of meetings and debates (see full schedule in www.coalizaobr.com.br).

“This COP plays a decisive role in the future of humanity: not only in the sense of the official negotiations, but also because it will lead to a long-term understanding between different groups that, each in their own way, will commit during the COP 21 to avoid a climate disaster”, says Celina Carpi, Chairwoman of the Ethos Institute Deliberative Board. “The prospects are positive. You can see the intense movement that is already taking place between companies, civil society organizations and governments. We are increasingly migrating to a strategy in which collective actions are essential for real change.”

National contributions (the so-called INDC) already submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) should be seen as starting points as humanity calls for urgent measures and definitive commitments. “The INDC’s ambition needs to be expanded”, says Marina Grossi, Chairwoman of the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (Conselho Empresarial Brasileiro para o Desenvolvimento Sustentável, Cebds). “What has been submitted by the countries is not enough to keep Earth’s surface temperature increase below 2°C. It’s up to everyone, public and private sectors, to cooperate and work for this. In this sense, the importance of the private sector is growing each day as it presents concrete proposals for business solutions that can contribute to enable the agreed goals.”

Brazilian contributions are focused on the agricultural, forestry and land use change sectors. This makes sense, since the country has 12% of the world’s forests and is a leading producer of food. Therefore, The Brazilian Coalition is already studying the economic impact on the goals of the Brazilian INDC and how these goals will converge with the movement proposals. Experts from various sectors are working as volunteers with The Brazilian Coalition. In this big task, the focus is to think and disseminate a new economic model based on the reduction of greenhouse gases.

Brazilian INDC, point by point

In terms of land use and agriculture, the Brazilian INDC involved 32 million hectares: 12 million related to recovery of forests, 15 million linked to pasture and 5 million related to crop-livestock-forest integration. It is a significant volume. However, studies indicate that the total forest area to be recovered may be much higher.

Covering this extension with more accuracy will depend on the studies and information consolidation that will come with the Rural Environmental Register (Cadastro Ambiental Rural, CAR), to be finalized in 2016, and the introduction of the Brazilian Forest Code. If the numbers in the Code indicate that the potential area is bigger than the area announced in the INDC, The Brazilian Coalition will work with this new figure.

Beto Mesquita, Director of Land Strategy at Conservação Internacional (Conservation International), highlights another aspect: “It is also essential to detail this goal among the different forms of reforestation — ecosystems regeneration, productive regeneration and homogeneous forest plantations — considering that each of them has a different potential for carbon storage and has a different impact on climate and water resilience for agriculture and cities.”

The scale presented for the recovery of degraded pastures was considered relevant by the leaders of the Brazilian Coalition. However, once again, the key is the mechanisms to achieve the expected results. Mauro Armelin, Conservation Director for WWF, explains: “We need to specify which technological efforts the government intends to adopt, the financial incentives and how the improvement of existing programs, such as Plano ABC (ABC Plan, Sectoral Plan for Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change for the Consolidation of a Low-Carbon Economy in Agriculture), will happen.”

The biggest ambition is related to the crop-livestock-forest integration in 5 million hectares. “This integration is just beginning in Brazil. We will start almost from scratch”, says Gustavo Junqueira, Chairman of the Sociedade Rural Brasileira (Brazilian Rural Society, SRB). According to him, the subject requires extensive research to understand the impact related to effective emissions. It also requires financial and legal instruments to enable the implementation of the Forest Code and the productivity growth in rural properties. “Moreover, Brazil will also need to create mechanisms to establish legal security which is important to ensure the necessary investments to consolidate the integration. It is the position that the country is assuming and showing to the world.”

End deforestation by 2030

The Brazilian Coalition thinks that the end of the deforestation can happen well before 2030, the deadline stipulated by the Brazilian INDC. “We will not feel comfortable if we have to wait more than 15 years to end this situation”, says João Paulo Capobianco, Chairman of the Instituto Democracia e Sustentabilidade (Democracy and Sustainability Institute) Board. “For this, as determined by the Constitution and current legislation, it is urgent to make use of all instruments that support the identification and severe punishment of those who cause deforestation and also offer incentives that need to be widely used”, adds Miriam Prochnow, Executive Secretary of Diálogo Florestal (Forest Dialogue). The Brazilian Coalition listed resources that can help in the gradual minimization of illegal deforestation, so that the impact on the country’s emissions becomes minimal in 2030.

“The anticipation of the end of illegal deforestation would also be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals”, says Rachel Biderman, Director of WRI Brasil (World Resources Institute). The SDG’s 15.2 goal determines that every country should implement a sustainable management of all kinds of forests, stop the deforestation, recover degraded forests and increase the reforestation significantly all over the world by 2020.

In addition, the movement adds that the country should participate actively in the appreciation of the rain forest, in the payment mechanisms for ecosystem services, in the carbon pricing, in the sustainable forest management and in the elimination of illegal wood. “These topics will be part of the discussions in Paris and should be considered by the government”, affirms José Penido, Chairman of the Board of Fibria Celulose.

Regarding the energy sector, the target of 16% in the participation of fuel ethanol and other biomass derived from sugarcane in the total Brazilian energy matrix for 2030 maintains today’s ethanol and bioelectricity participation. “Depending on the estimates related to the power demand growth, this may require a considerable effort”, affirms Elizabeth Farina, Chief Executive of the National Union of Sugar Cane Industries (União Nacional das Indústrias da Cana de Açúcar, Unica).

The members of The Brazilian Coalition affirm that it is necessary that the international market appreciates all the efforts in support to the environmental sustainability. “International trade needs to recognize and value the commitments, supply chains and low-impact activities to achieve climate goals”, says Rodrigo Freire, Forest and Climate Coordinator of The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

The Brazilian Coalition has been very active and accepted in different debate areas for its ability to promote consensus between groups and sectors that did not work together before. During the COP 21, The Brazilian Coalition will promote or participate in events in which it will present its proposals and its operating model.

“We will leave Paris with a greater mission, which is to put into practice what was agreed here. We aim to expand cooperation with international partners for future projects and partnerships”, concludes Isabella Vitali Freire, Brazilian Manager of Proforest, a nonprofit organization that works with agricultural and forestry chains.

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