Global greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions totaled about 53 billion tonnes of carbon equivalent (Gt CO2e) in 2015, according to estimates from the Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) from the European Commission Joint Research Center. In the same year, Brazil contributed 2 Gt CO2e, or 3.9% of the annual global emissions (considering net emissions would be 2.9%).This share has already reached 6% in 2004.
Considering the national territory size (5% of terrestrial surface), Brazil’s contribution to global GHG emissions is relatively small, yet it is the seventh largest emission on the planet.
Despite recent advances, we are still far from being a Low Carbon Economy. Our per capita emissions exceed 10.6 tCO2e/inhabitant (2015) and are still higher than the global average of 7.3 tCO2e/hab (already double that in the 1990s). Even emissions per capita net already exceeds 8 tCO2e/inhab.
When comparing emissions intensity, Brazil emits just over 1 tCO2e for every US$ 1 million of GDP, well above the global average of 0.71 tCO2e, and very far from 0.05 tCO2e/million of GDP, which in most climate scenarios, is the level compatible with low carbon economy.
According to the 5th IPCC Assessment Report (IPCC-AR5), cumulative global emissions must be limited to 1.000 tCO2e between 2012 and 2100 in order to have a reasonable chance of limiting global temperature increase by 2°C. That means limiting global per capita emissions to around 1 to 3 tonnes per capta per year by the middle of the century. As for the more ambitious limit of the Paris Agreement, 1.5°C, the carbon space should be even smaller.
The latest reports released in 2013 and 2104 by the IPCC (AR5) indicate that changes in climate are real, are caused in particular by increased greenhouse gas emissions, whose main factor is the change the planet’s energy balance. Based on information from the IPCC – AR5 and from the First National Assessment Report of the Brazilian Panel on Climate Change (PBMC – RAN1), it is estimated that the consequences of climate changes will have a profound impact on Brazil, in particular on agriculture, energy security, health and housing, since the scenarios studied indicate the possibility of increasing the average temperatures by up to 5°C in some regions of the country, and increased intensity, duration and frequency of extreme drought and precipitation events.
Brazil has a National Policy for Climate Changes with a target of reducing emissions from 36.1% to 38.9% against a projection of our emissions for 2020. A series of actions are underway for the country to reach these goals, including a set of sectorial plans in areas such as agriculture, combating deforestation, industry, energy, transport and mining.
Already in 2015 Brazil launched its INDC (nationally determined contribution) with commitments intended for the period after 2020 as part of the construction of the new global climate agreement. The INDC includes a target of reducing emissions by 37% from 2005 to 2025 and the indicative of 43% reduction by 2030 and set of commitments and programs to achieve this goal.
The monitoring of Brazilian GHG emissions is fundamental for evaluating the progress of the implementation of the National Policy on Climate Change and the commitments within the UNFCCC, as well as to delineating trends and detecting possible deviations from the road in time to make necessary corrections and adaptations.
Brazil is not required to produce annual national inventories and communications of its emissions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) because it is not included in the list of countries in Annex I to the Convention, which covers developed countries and the so-called like the Eastern European countries. As with the other non-Annex I countries, Brazilian inventories do not have defined periodicity and the data are not submitted to the review of an international team. So far, Brazil has produced three inventories (1994, 2005 and 2010) and data updates or biannual estimates have been published since 2013.
National communications are a commitment of all UNFCCC signatory countries and report on efforts to mitigate the causes and mitigate the impacts of their emissions. The Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI), is responsible for the elaboration of the Brazilian communication, wich is also responsible for coordinating the implementation of the Convention Climate Change in Brazil since it was signed in 1992.
In 2010, when regulating the National Policy on Climate Change, Decree 7.390 determined that the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation is to produce annual estimates of greenhouse gas emissions. In June 2013, in response to this determination, MCTI began publishing updates with estimates up to the year 2010. In 2018 the MCT published an update, with data up to 2015.
The gap between the publication of the data and the period covered is a problem, since it takes time to capture the evolution of emissions (currently the lag is at least 2 years). Another difficulty is the form of presentation of official estimates, which limits the possibilities of using the data. The printed tables are complex and difficult to use, and a newly established database (SIRENE) is an incomplete breakthrough.
Faced with the need to obtain up-to-date data on greenhouse gas emissions, there have been some independent initiatives to calculate emissions in recent years. In 2009, Agronomist and PhD in Geosciences, Carlos Clemente Cerri, of the Center for Nuclear Energy in Agriculture (CENA), made estimates for the period from 1990 to 2005 (the second inventory had not yet been disclosed), and made updates until the year 2008. He then published several articles with suggestions for mitigation of emissions and low-carbon alternatives for agriculture and livestock, including sectoral and regional adjustments.
In November 2012, another set of independent estimates was published by forestry engineer Tasso Azevedo. The work was part of the preparation of subsidies for Brazil’s participation in the 18th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Climate Change (COP 18) held in Doha, Qatar. Estimates of GHG emissions covered the period from 2005 to 2011, completing the data available from 1990 to 2005. The methodology used was based on the 2nd Brazilian Inventory of Emissions of MCTI and updating of data then available in an accessible form on the internet.
These initiatives served as inspiration and embryo for the present Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimate System (SEEG) of the Climate Observatory (OC), which annually produces estimates for the entire country and all states and DF with data since 1970.
The Climate Observatory’s commitment under this system is to prepare annual estimates and analyzes with a maximum gap of one year, and to make all data, methods and spreadsheets accessible, so that all stakeholders can be informed for the debate of climate change related policy in Brazil.
These updated estimates, although with the limitations of the circumstances in which they were produced, make it possible to perceive trends and favor analyzes and corrections in time to guide the adoption of adequate public policies and to promote the proper adjustments and corrections of directions in existing public policies.
Building an efficient Low Carbon Economy depends on better informed decision-making, planning and implementation of public policies, and the promotion of governmental, non-governmental, and private sector initiatives.