Emissions from Brazil have the highest increase in 19 years
Data from the 10th edition of SEEG shows that growth in 2021 reached 12.2%, occurred in almost all sectors of the economy and was driven by deforestation, energy and agriculture.
Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 had their highest rise in nearly two decades. Data from SEEG, the Climate Observatory's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimation System, show that last year the country emitted 2.42 billion gross tons of CO2 equivalent, an increase of 12.2% over to 2020 (2.16 billion tons).
A greater increase was only verified in 2003, the year in which the country reached its all-time record in emissions. That year, the increase was 20%, driven by the explosion of deforestation in the Amazon.
Last year, emissions from deforestation were also the main responsible for the increase. Boosted by the third consecutive year of growth in the deforested area in the Amazon and other biomes under Jair Bolsonaro, emissions from land use change (MUT) and forests rose by 18.5%. The destruction of Brazilian biomes emitted 1.19 billion gross tons last year — more than Japan — against 1 billion tons in 2020.
But almost all sectors of the economy had a strong increase: it was 3.8% in agriculture, a sector that usually has small fluctuations in greenhouse gases; 8.2% in the sector of industrial processes and use of products; and 12.2% in the energy sector, the highest increase since the “economic miracle” of the military dictatorship in 1973. The waste sector was the only one with stable emissions from 2020 to 2021.
Energy: highest high in 50 years
The rise in energy and industry is due to a number of factors. One of them is the resumption of the economy after the most serious phase of the Covid-19 pandemic. In this case, Brazil followed the global trend: a report by UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) released last Thursday (27/10) showed that, after a 4.7% drop in 2020, the year At the peak of the pandemic, world emissions rose rapidly again in 2021 and may have beaten the all-time high of 2019.
In Brazil, the energy sector emitted 435 million tons of CO2 equivalent in 2021 against 387 million in 2020. “Proportionally, emissions exploded due to the fact that consumption fell in 2020 because of Covid. Last year, energy consumption returned to 2014 levels”, says Felipe Barcellos, analyst
of projects of the Institute of Energy and Environment, organization responsible for the calculations of energy and industrial processes of SEEG.
However, two other factors explain the biggest rise in emissions in almost 50 years in the sector. One of them was the 2021 water crisis, resulting from the worst drought in nine decades in the Center-South of the country. It dried up the hydroelectric plants and forced the activation of thermoelectric plants, which the government made permanent. This reduced the share of renewable energies in the national electricity matrix. While electricity consumption increased by 4%, emissions from electricity generation grew by 46%. A third factor, also resulting from the drought, was the drop in the sugarcane harvest in the Southeast, which led to a rise in the price of ethanol — consequently reducing the share of biofuel in transport.
Agriculture had the highest emissions in the historical series: 601 million tons, against 579 million in 2020. If it were a country, Brazilian agriculture would be the 16th largest emitter on the planet, ahead of South Africa. Livestock — in particular the methane emitted by belching cattle — is the main source, with 79.4% of the sector's emissions. The significant increase in the cattle herd in 2021, of 3.1% (six times more than the average of the last 18 years), was the main factor influencing the increase in emissions. The last time the country saw such a massive growth in the number of cattle was in 2004.
In agriculture, the increase in the consumption of nitrogen fertilizers (13.8%) and the volume of limestone in crops, which rose 20%, weighed.
“The most worrying thing is that, even with the commitments made by the country in its NDC (the target in the Paris Agreement), in the Global Methane Commitment and in the ABC Plan, which is more than ten years old, in 2021 we had a record of emissions for livestock and agriculture in Brazil”, emphasizes Renata Potenza, coordinator of Climate and Agricultural Chains at Imaflora. “Considering the emission reduction targets assumed in the country's NDC for 2025 and 2030, the current level makes the achievement of these targets increasingly distant.”
In the waste sector, which mainly encompasses waste disposal (64% of emissions) and sewage treatment (28%), emissions remained essentially unchanged (91.1 million tons in 2021 against 91.2 million in 2020) .
“Actually, there was a small — very small — reduction, on the order of 0.12%. This is unprecedented in the historical series”, observes Iris Coluna, ICLEI's technical advisor, responsible for the estimates for this sector. “And it was for a good reason.” There was a reduction in emissions related to the final disposal of solid waste, leveraged by an increase in the amount of methane recovered from landfills.
Methane comes from the decomposition of organic waste in landfills. One way to minimize the impact of these emissions (and still earn revenue) is to capture the methane and burn it to generate energy. Burning methane (CH4) produces CO2, which comparatively has a much lower potential to warm the planet. In addition, the CO2 is offset by photosynthesis that produced the biomass, which is eventually decomposed in the landfill (and which generates methane).
“We went from a recovery of 452,000 in 2020 to 531,000 tons of methane in 2021, due to the increase in capture at the Caieiras and CTR Leste landfills, in São Paulo,” explains Coluna. “But we have a lot of room to expand the adoption of these targets, diversifying treatment routes, increasing composting and recycling rates, and decreasing generation.”
The champion remains the same
The great villain, responsible for 49% of all emissions in the country, were changes in land use. Deforestation in the Amazon accounted for 77% of emissions by MUT in 2021. The increase in gross emissions from the sector, of 18.5%, is only surpassed in the historical series for the year 2003, in which the growth was 30%. A significant increase of 65% was also detected in the carbon emitted by the deforestation of the Atlantic Forest. In the Cerrado, emissions were 117 million tons, an increase of 4%. “The deforestation rate in 2021 in the Legal Amazon was 13,038 km2, the highest since 2006, when deforestation was in sharp decline from the 27,772 km2 seen in 2004. This demonstrates that the increase in emissions is currently reflecting this setback in the patterns of deforestation”, comments Bárbara Zimbres, a researcher at Ipam.
SEEG also estimated the impact of fires not associated with deforestation, such as those produced by forest fires in the Amazon. They are produced by man, but are not counted in the official Brazilian inventory. They were able to have their extension verified for the first time through MapBiomas Fogo. If they were computed, they would represent an increase of 8% in emissions per MUT in Brazil.
According to Tasso Azevedo, SEEG coordinator, the ten-year balance of the System shows that Brazil had a lost decade to control its climate pollution. “Since the regulation of the National Policy on Climate Change, in 2010, we have been skating. Not only have we not been able to consistently reduce our emissions, but we have increased them significantly in recent years”, he highlights. “Brazil has the public policy tools, technology and resources to change its trajectory, but the government and society need to understand that this is essential to provide security for the population in times of accelerated extreme events and also to leverage the economy."
About SEEG — It was created in 2012 to comply with a determination by the PNMC (National Policy on Climate Change). The decree that regulates the PNMC established that the country should produce annual emission estimates, in order to monitor the implementation of the policy. The government, however, did not produce them. National inventories, fundamental instruments for knowing in detail the country's emissions profile, are published only every five years.
SEEG (seeg.eco.br) was the first national initiative to produce annual estimates for the entire economy. It was incorporated into the Climate Observatory in 2013. Today, in its 10th edition, it is one of the largest national databases on
greenhouse gas emissions in the world, comprising Brazilian emissions from five sectors (Agriculture, Energy, Land Use Change, Industrial Processes and Waste).
The estimates are generated according to the guidelines of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), based on the Brazilian Inventories of Anthropogenic Emissions and Removals of Greenhouse Gases, from the MCTIC (Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications).
About the Climate Observatory — Founded in 2002, it is the main Brazilian civil society network on the climate agenda, with 77 member organizations, including environmental NGOs, research institutes and social movements. Its objective is to help build a decarbonized, egalitarian, prosperous and sustainable Brazil in the fight against the climate crisis. Since 2013, the OC has published the SEEG, the annual estimate of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions (oc.eco.br).
Solange A. Barreira – Climate Observatory
+ 55 11 9 8108-7272
Brazil can reduce methane emissions by 36% by 2030
An unprecedented calculation was presented this Monday by the Climate Observatory and shows that country can overcome the ambition of the global goal with existing technology.
Brazil can reduce its methane emissions by 36% by 2030 from 2020 levels only by expanding existing policies and measures in agriculture, the energy sector, sanitation and deforestation control. The conclusion is from an unprecedented calculation presented this Monday (10/17) by the Climate Observatory.
In a new report by SEEG (Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimation System), the network points out that Brazil is in a position to adopt a methane cut target higher than the 30% proposed for 2030 by the Global Methane Commitment , a voluntary agreement signed in 2021 in Glasgow by around 120 countries.
But Brazil's potential is even greater: in the long term, with deeper policies and greater investment, the country's potential is to reduce emissions of this potent greenhouse gas by up to 75%.
Methane (CH4) is the second biggest contributor to global warming. Each ton of this gas warms the planet 28 times more than a ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) within a hundred years. In 20 years, this warming potential is even greater: 80 times. Almost half of the global temperature increase observed today is due to emissions of this gas.
Although more dangerous, methane is produced in much smaller quantities than carbon dioxide: humanity emitted 52 billion tons of CO2 in 2020, against 364 million tons of methane. CH4 also lasts much shorter in the atmosphere — less than 20 years, versus more than 100 years for CO2. This shorter half-life makes methane a good target for emission-fighting strategies that help humanity buy time to stop global warming now and phase out fossil fuels. This would help keep alive the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5oC this century.
Brazil is the fifth largest emitter of methane in the world, with 5.5% of global emissions of this gas, or 20.2 million tons in 2020, according to SEEG estimates (a figure that goes to 21.7 million tons if emissions are accounted for). that today are not included in the official Brazilian inventory). Of this total, 72% come from agriculture, in particular emissions from enteric fermentation of the bovine herd — the proverbial “ox burp”. The eructations of beef cattle alone account for more than half (11.5 million tons) of the methane released into the atmosphere by Brazil.
In distant second place is the waste sector, with 3.17 million tons, or 16% of the national total. Most of these emissions derive from the final disposal of garbage and from domestic and industrial sewage. Next comes the burning of biomass associated with deforestation, mainly in the Amazon. Smoke from burning trees that fall to make way for pastures and crops accounts for 9% of Brazilian emissions, or 2.7 million tons of methane annually. The energy and industrial processes sectors together account for 3% of Brazilian emissions (616 thousand tons per year).
2022.06.13 - Updated 06.23.2022 at 15:15
Eight of the ten municipalities that emit the most greenhouse gases are in the Amazon
Second edition of SEEG Municipalities reveals how much each city emitted and in which sectors; the ten largest emitters in the agricultural sector are not among those with the highest GDP.
Eight of the ten municipalities that emit the most greenhouse gases in the country are in the Amazon, where deforestation is the main source of emissions. Altamira and São Félix do Xingu, in Pará, lead the list, followed by Porto Velho (RO) and Lábrea (AM). São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are the only ones outside the Amazon among the emissions champions, in fifth and eighth positions, respectively. In 2019, the ten municipalities together emitted 198 million gross tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), more than all the emissions of countries like Peru and the Netherlands. This is what the second edition of SEEG Municipalities reveals, an initiative of the Climate Observatory.
The SEEG calculated the greenhouse gas emissions of all 5,570 Brazilian municipalities. The survey covers two decades (2000-2019) and includes more than a hundred emission sources in the energy, industry, agriculture, waste treatment, land use and forestry sectors.
Emissions in Altamira (PA), leader of the ranking, reached 35.2 MtCO2e in 2019. If it were a country, the municipality of Pará would be the 108th in the world in emissions, ahead of Sweden and Norway, according to CAIT data, the World Resources Institute global emissions ranking.
The study shows that, in the last decade, emissions in the Amazon were concentrated in southwest Pará, in Porto Velho (RO) and Lábrea (AM). Most of these emissions are the result of deforestation — according to MapBiomas Alerta, 98% of deforestation in the region has signs of illegality.
The Amazon tops the ranking of per capita emissions. Of the ten municipalities with the most emissions per inhabitant, 6 are in Mato Grosso, 3 in Pará and 1 in Amazonas. In Novo Progresso (PA), for example, the epicenter of deforestation on the BR-163 axis, the tenth largest emission per inhabitant in the country was recorded: 580 tons of CO2e per year, that is, 14 times the emission of a Qatari citizen. , the country with the highest amount of carbon per capita on the planet. It is as if each resident of Novo Progresso had more than 500 cars running 20 km a day on gasoline. The global average is 7 tons of CO2e per year per inhabitant.
On the other hand, large Amazonian municipalities with many protected areas also have large carbon removals — when removals are subtracted from total emissions, we arrive at so-called net emissions. The champion of removals is Altamira, the largest municipality in the country by area, which had removals of 25.7 MtCO2e in 2019. The survey highlights the importance of creating and maintaining Conservation Units (UC) and Indigenous Lands (TI).
The SEEG report estimates that, if current policies to control methane emissions were maintained, the country would reach 2030 emitting 7% more than in 2020. The application of a series of policies and measures in all sectors, however , would make it possible to reduce emissions by 2030 to 13.75 million tons, or a 36.5% cut — a target proposed by the OC to Brazil.
Among the measures to achieve this objective are zero deforestation with signs of illegality, something the Brazilian government had already committed to, the eradication of dumps, the gradual elimination of deposition in sanitary landfills and the use of 50% of the biogas in landfills. .
In the agricultural sector, the practices mapped are the management of animal waste, the elimination of the burning of sugarcane straw — already a reality in the State of São Paulo, the largest national producer —, the genetic improvement of the cattle herd and the so-called intensive termination, as early slaughter with accelerated fattening of animals is known.
“What is striking about the policies and measures mapped in this study is that they all bring economic gain. These are initiatives that the public authorities or rural producers, in the case of agriculture, should already be doing on a large scale, because they are already known and used practices”, says Tasso Azevedo, SEEG's technical coordinator. “Now we have, for the first time, a roadmap for the application of these practices and we have shown that Brazil can be even more ambitious than the global commitment and make money from it.”
“We know that agriculture holds most of Brazil's methane emissions, but we also know that the country already has several technologies that can help change this scenario. With this report, we show how much each of them, if applied efficiently and sustainably, can positively impact and reduce the emissions seen today and in the future in the environment in general”, explains Renata Potenza, coordinator of projects in Climate and Emissions at the Imaflora.
“Access and universal access to basic sanitation are essential for the waste sector, and must be thought of together with strategies to mitigate methane emissions. Most of these technologies are already available for use and have low or medium implementation costs. CH4 has a high energy potential, which can be used for energy generation, for example. It's a win-win situation,” said Kaccny Carvalho, Low Carbon and Resilience Analyst at ICLEI.
“Many Brazilians still suffer from a lack of access to clean energy for cooking, relying on collecting firewood and generating air pollution inside their homes. Replacing the use of firewood with gas stoves, or better still, electric ones, can reduce most of the methane emissions related to energy use, while promoting a great leap in the quality of life of these vulnerable people”, he said. David Tsai, project manager at the Energy and Environment Institute.
“Most land use emissions come from fires associated with deforestation, especially in the Amazon. They are bad for the climate and health, and the country only loses with them. This study provides yet another reason for us to stop deforestation. as soon as possible: in addition to helping the climate in the long term, reducing CO2 emissions, this also helps to stabilize the temperature in the short term, by cutting methane emissions", said Bárbara Zimbres, a researcher at Ipam.
About the Climate Observatory — Founded in 2002, it is the main Brazilian civil society network on the climate agenda, with 77 member organizations, including environmental NGOs, research institutes and social movements. Its objective is to help build a decarbonized, egalitarian, prosperous and sustainable Brazil in the fight against the climate crisis. Since 2013, the OC has published the SEEG, the annual estimate of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions.
ACCESS THE STUDY HERE
Emissions x Agricultural GDP
In 2019, the agricultural sector was the largest emitter in 67% of Brazilian municipalities, with emphasis on beef cattle.
In this edition, SEEG crossed emission data with the value of Agricultural GDP in the municipalities, surveyed by IBGE. The survey shows that the ten most emitting municipalities in 2019 are not among those with the highest Agricultural GDP. In other words, emissions do not result in economic gains for the municipalities.
The ten with the highest Agricultural GDP have the profile of emissions and land use more related to agricultural production activities, unlike the ten that emit the most, which have activities related to livestock. This demonstrates how land use choices influence emissions in municipalities.
The survey also points out that, from 2000 to 2019, among the ten most emitting municipalities, there was an increase of 2.13 million hectares of pasture (instead of the use of areas already opened). More than half (56%) is in some stage of degradation. This indicates the recovery potential of these areas, which can become more productive and contribute to carbon removal, when well managed and without the opening of new pastures.
Of the ten municipalities that most emitted in the sector in 2019, most emissions were generated in the Amazon biome (64%), followed by Pantanal (18%), Cerrado (11%) and Pampa (7%). In the Pantanal, only two municipalities, Corumbá (MS) and Cáceres (MT), are responsible, together, for 49% of the emissions in the biome.
The municipalities that emitted the most in the sector are those with the largest herds of cattle (beef and milk): the digestion process of animals — the so-called enteric fermentation — is most responsible for methane emissions (CH₄), the main greenhouse gas in the sector .
São Félix do Xingu, in Pará, which has the largest herd in the country, was the one that emitted the most in 2019, totaling 4.5 MtCO2e, followed by Corumbá (MS) and Vila Bela da Santíssima Trindade (MT), with 3.6 MtCO2e and 2.4 MtCO2e, respectively.
The energy sector, especially because of transport, stands out as the biggest source of emission in large cities, especially capitals.
São Paulo leads in emissions, with 11.9 MtCO2e, followed by Manaus (7.5 MtCO2e) and Rio de Janeiro (5.6 MtCO2e).
Florianópolis is the car capital: it has the highest per inhabitant rate of emissions from individual road transport (774 kg of CO2e), followed by Campo Grande (665 kg of CO2e) and Brasília (636 kg of CO2e). São Paulo has more cars, but it also has a large public transport network (two thirds of the population in São Paulo use public transport or walk), which reduces per capita emissions.
Municipality with the largest number of thermoelectric plants in the country, Manaus is the one that emits the most in terms of electricity, with 5.02 MtCO2e.
A survey by Iema (Institute of Energy and Environment) shows that in Macaé (RJ), one of the cities where the expansion of thermoelectric plants is planned, the air quality is already inadequate, with concentrations of pollutants such as ozone above the level recommended by the WHO.
The study also shows that Cuiabá is the city with the highest installed capacity for generating solar energy in the country, followed by Brasília. In the case of industrial processes, the Espírito Santo municipality of Serra, which houses a steel mill, leads the emissions that could be allocated to the municipalities, with 9 MtCO2e, followed by Ipatinga (MG), with 4.5 MtCO2e.
The waste sector, although representing only 5% of Brazil's gross emissions, is an important source of emissions for cities — especially the most populous ones. Rio leads this sector, with 5.5 MtCO2e, followed by São Paulo, which, despite having almost twice the population, emits 4.6 MtCO2e, due to the energy use of biogas that is generated in landfills.
“This second edition of emissions data from Brazilian municipalities consolidates the understanding of the dynamics of greenhouse gas emissions at the local level in Brazil and the enormous challenge that will be to reverse emissions in a way that is negative in the coming decades. Without municipalities and local policies to reduce emissions, there is no hope for the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5oC by the end of the century”, says Tasso Azevedo, SEEG's general coordinator.
Complete data are available on the seeg.eco.br platform. Below are highlights from SEEG Municipalities.
LAND USE AND FORESTS CHANGE SECTOR
ENERGY AND INDUSTRIAL PROCESS SECTORS
About SEEG: The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimate System was created in 2012 to comply with a determination by the PNMC (National Policy on Climate Change). The decree that regulates the PNMC established that the country should produce annual emission estimates, in order to monitor the implementation of the policy. The government, however, did not produce them. National inventories, fundamental instruments for knowing in detail the country's emissions profile, are published only every five years. SEEG (seeg.eco.br) was the first national initiative to produce annual estimates for the entire economy. It was incorporated into the Climate Observatory in 2013. Today, it is one of the largest national databases on greenhouse gas emissions in the world, comprising Brazilian emissions from five sectors (Agriculture, Energy, Land Use Change and Forestry, Industrial Processes). and Waste). The estimates are generated according to the guidelines of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), based on the Brazilian Inventories of Anthropogenic Emissions and Removals of Greenhouse Gases, from the MCTIC (Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications).
About the Climate Observatory – Founded in 2002, it is the main Brazilian civil society network on the climate agenda, with more than 70 member organizations, including environmental NGOs, research institutes and social movements. Its objective is to help build a decarbonized, egalitarian, prosperous and sustainable Brazil in the fight against the climate crisis. Since 2013, the OC has published the SEEG, the annual estimate of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions.
October, 28 - 2021
Going against the world, Brazil increased emissions in the middle of the pandemic
Deforestation in the Amazon was mainly responsible for the 9.5% increase in greenhouse gases in 2020, indicate data from the Climate Observatory
Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 grew by 9.5 percent, while worldwide they plummeted by nearly 7 percent due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The rise in deforestation last year, especially in the Amazon, has put Brazil at the opposite direction of the planet and leaves it at a disadvantage in the Paris Agreement. It is the highest amount of emissions since 2006. With the increase in emissions and the 4.1% drop in GDP, Brazil became poorer and polluted more.
The data comes from the new SEEG (Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimates System) estimate, from the Climate Observatory, which calculates every year how much climate pollution Brazil generated. In its ninth edition, released this Thursday (28), the SEEG calculated gross national emissions at 2.16 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (Gt CO2e) last year, compared to 1.97 billion in 2019. This is the country's highest level of emissions since 2006.
Discounting carbon removals by secondary forests and protected areas, the country's net emissions last year were 1.52 GtCO2e, up 14% from 2019, when they were 1.34 GtCO2e (see box).
Of the five sectors of the economy that account for virtually all of Brazil's emissions, three were up, one was down, and one remained stable.
The energy sector, which accounted for 18% of the country's emissions last year, had a sharp drop of 4.6%. This was in direct response to the pandemic, which in the first months of last year reduced passenger transport, industry output, and electricity generation. At 394 million tons of CO2e, the energy sector returned to 2011 emission levels.
"The energy sector was the only one that showed a drop in emissions in 2020. This result is a clear reflection of the decrease in emitting activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic, when it was necessary for people to avoid moving around. Noteworthy is the decrease in emissions in passenger transport. Aviation fuel consumption has halved. The demand for gasoline and ethanol also decreased significantly", comments Felipe Barcellos, a researcher from Iema (Energy and Environment Institute), which estimates the emissions for the energy and industrial process sectors.
The emissions from agriculture and cattle-raising, which comprise 577 million tons of CO2e (27% of the national total) in 2020, also suffered an increase, of 2.5%. It is the highest increase since 2010 in a sector whose emissions in recent years have fluctuated little. This occurred partly for a counterintuitive reason: the economic crisis decreased meat consumption, with a reduction of almost 8% in the slaughter of cattle. The national herd grew by 3.2 million head, which, in turn, also increased methane emissions from enteric fermentation (the popular "cattle burp").
"The agricultural sector has reached the highest emission of greenhouse gases ever, even in a pandemic year. Although the growth of the implementation of low carbon agriculture techniques in Brazil is visible, including the fulfillment of a large part of the ABC Plan goals, this growth is still short of the necessary levels for us to see the trajectory of emissions in the sector being modified and demonstrate the real potential that Brazil has in having a sustainable and low carbon agriculture and cattle-raising", said Renata Potenza, project coordinator of Imaflora, the organization responsible for calculating emissions from agriculture and cattle-raising.
In the waste sector, the quarantine measures possibly (there are still uncertainties about the effect) increased emissions, mainly by the disposal of waste in landfills and dumps (since unofficial estimates indicate that the generation of municipal solid waste increased by about 10% in 2020) and domestic sewage, which in turn has a strong correlation with population. The growth in the sector was 1.8%, going from 90.4 million to 92 million tons of CO2e.
"This sector was historically the one that grew faster in Brazil since 1970, following the population and urbanization. However, it accounts for the smallest slice of the total, contributing only 4% of the national emissions," says Iris Coluna, project analyst for ICLEI South America, which calculates the sector's emissions.
The industrial processes, represented mainly by steel and cement manufacturing, highly emitting activities, remained stable in their emissions even in the pandemic. The sector hovered from 99.5 million to 99.7 million tons from 2019 to 2020, accounting for 5 percent of Brazil's total emissions.
To no one's surprise, the land use change sector was the one that pulled the curve up and made Brazil possibly the only major polluter on the planet to increase its emissions in the year the planet stopped. Represented mostly by deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado (which together make up almost 90% of the sector's emissions), land use change emitted 998 million tons of CO2e in 2020, an increase of 24% compared to 2019 (807 million).
In a scenario of dismantling environmental enforcement and lack of control over crimes such as land grabbing, mining and illegal logging in the Bolsonaro government, deforestation in the Amazon in 2020 suffered an expressive rise, reaching 10,851 square kilometers according to data from the Prodes/Inpe system. The SEEG uses in its estimates the data from the MapBiomas consortium, which also measures the cutting of secondary forests and uses a time series different from that of Inpe (MapBiomas considers January to December and not August to July, as does Prodes). However, the trend is similar in both systems.
In the Amazon alone, emissions from changes in land use reached 782 million tons of CO2 equivalent last year. If the Brazilian forest were a country, it would be the ninth largest emitter in the world, ahead of Germany. Adding the Cerrado (113 million tons of CO2 e) to the bill, the two biomes emit more than Iran and would be the world's eighth emitter.
"Land use change once again emerges as the main source of emissions in Brazil. Two thousand and twenty was the year that we had the highest emissions from the sector in 11 years, a clear reflection of the ongoing dismantling of environmental policy, which has favored the resumption of high rates of deforestation," said Ane Alencar, director of science at IPAM (Amazon Environmental Research Institute), the organization responsible for calculating the sector's emissions in the SEEG.
The lack of control over deforestation means that Brazil's emissions curve is still dominated by an activity that is mostly illegal and does not contribute to the GDP or to job creation. It also places a disproportionate weight on rural activities in terms of Brazilian emissions: adding the 27% of direct emissions from agriculture and cattle-raising to the emissions from deforestation, transport and waste treatment associated with the rural sector, agribusiness is responsible for almost three quarters (74%) of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions.
TARGET MET, WITH ONE MAJOR CAVEAT
The SEEG also assessed compliance with the PNMC, the National Policy on Climate Change law. Enacted in 2009, the law required the country to cut its emissions by 36.1% to 38.9% by 2020 in relation to a projected scenario with very generous assumptions (such as GDP growth of 5% per year). According to these criteria, the country's gross emissions in 2020, calculated according to the guidelines of AR2, the Second Assessment Report of the IPCC (the UN's climate panel), should be at least 1.977 GtCO2e and at most 2.068 GtCO2e. Converting the gross emissions to the AR2 factors, the SEEG calculated the 2020 figure to be 2.047 GtCO2e. So Brazil has met the target at its least ambitious limit, with 1% "slack".
This is bittersweet news. "Although the country has met the target in the aggregate, and has also met most of the targets of the Low Carbon Agriculture Plan, the behavior of our emissions has not changed since the PNMC regulation in 2010," says Tasso Azevedo, SEEG coordinator. He recalls that the main goal of the PNMC, the 80% reduction in the rate of devastation of the Amazon, was very far from being met: the target for 2020 was 3,925 km2 and deforestation was 10,851 km2, 176% higher. "In relation to 2010, when the PNMC target was set, Brazilian emissions increased 23%. We continue with deforestation dominating our gross emissions and, what's worse, with an upward trend in emissions in the year when we should start meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.
"Those who plant environmental dismantling reap carbon dioxide," said Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the OC. "Brazil achieved the feat of being perhaps the only major emitter that polluted the most during the first year of the pandemic. The SEEG data confirm that the forest destroyers, lulled by Jair Bolsonaro's environmental anti-politics, did not do home office. It's another blow to the international image of the country, which will arrive completely discredited in Glasgow next week for COP26."
GROSS EMISSIONS VS. NET EMISSIONS
Although it gives preference to reporting gross emissions, the SEEG also estimates Brazil's so-called net emissions, which consider CO2 removals from the atmosphere due to land use changes (for example, the growth of secondary forests in place of pastures) and to the maintenance of forests in indigenous areas and conservation units. The federal government prefers to report net emissions to the United Nations. In the context of an economy moving towards "zero net emission" in 2050, which is what is desired for Brazil, the role of carbon removals, especially by forests in recovery or regeneration, should be increasingly considered.
The Climate Observatory understands, however, that although this "discount" in the accounting of protected areas is authorized by the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), reporting gross emissions instead is more appropriate due to the peculiarities of the methodology for calculating removals in the Brazilian inventory, which ends up not representing the reality of the trend of removals in the country, which have been reducing as indigenous lands and conservation units are invaded and deforested.
Considering removals, Brazil's net emissions were 1.52 GtCO2e, which represented a 14% increase from 2019, when they were 1.34 GtCO2e. Net emissions peaked in 2003, when they reached 2.65 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Since 2010, when the PNMC was regulated, Brazil has increased its net emissions by 28% - a proportionally greater increase than gross emissions. This phenomenon occurs because emissions have increased faster than removals.
About the Climate Observatory: a network formed in 2002, composed of 71 non-governmental organizations and social movements. It acts to advance dialogue, public policies and decision-making processes on climate change in the country and globally. Website: http://oc.eco.br.
About the SEEG: The System of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimates was created in 2012 to meet a determination of the PNMC (National Policy on Climate Change). The decree regulating the PNMC established that the country should produce annual emission estimates in order to monitor the implementation of the policy. The government, however, has not produced them. The national inventories, a fundamental instrument to know in detail the country's emissions profile, are published only every five years.
The SEEG (http://seeg.eco.br) was the first national initiative to produce annual economy-wide estimates. Launched in 2012 and incorporated into the Climate Observatory the following year, it is one of the largest national databases on greenhouse gas emissions in the world, comprising Brazilian emissions from five sectors (Agriculture and Livestock, Energy, Industrial Processes, Waste and Land Use Change).
The estimates are generated according to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) guidelines, based on the Brazilian Inventories of Anthropogenic Emissions and Removals of Greenhouse Gases, from the MCTIC (Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications).
The SEEG Municipalities had the participation of researchers from NGOs: Ipam and Imazon (Land Use Change), Imaflora (Agriculture and Livestock), Iema (Energy and Industrial Processes) and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability (Waste).
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Solange A. Barreira Claudio Angelo
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march, 04 - 2021
Amazon municipalities dominate carbon emissions
Seven of the ten largest emitters in the country are in the North, shows the country's first municipal mapping of greenhouse gases.
The ten municipalities that are champions of greenhouse gases (GHG) in Brazil together emit 172 million gross tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). It is more than whole countries like Peru, Belgium or the Philippines. And seven of these big emitters are in the Amazon, where deforestation is the main source of emissions. This is what the first edition of SEEG Municipalities reveals, an unprecedented initiative by the Climate Observatory.
SEEG calculated greenhouse gas emissions from all 5,570 Brazilian municipalities. The survey covers every year from 2000 to 2018 and is detailed for more than a hundred sources of emissions in the sectors of energy, transport, industry, agriculture, waste treatment and changes in land use and forests.
This is the first time that emissions have been seen at the municipal level, and the first time that such a survey has been carried out for a large country. The aim is to increase the knowledge of mayors, city councils and local society across the country about the dynamics of emissions and provide a tool for the development of municipal development policies with carbon reduction.
The municipality that most emits in Brazil is São Félix do Xingu (PA), with 29.7 million gross tons of CO2e in 2018. Of this total, changes in land use, mostly resulting from deforestation, account for 25 , 44 million tons, followed by agriculture, with 4.22 million tons of CO2e, emitted mainly by the digestion of the bovine herd. The municipality of Pará has the largest number of heads in the country.
If it were a country, São Félix do Xingu would be the 111th in the world in emissions, ahead of Uruguay, Norway, Chile, Croatia, Costa Rica and Panama, according to data from Cait, the global emissions ranking of the World Resources Institute.
Deforestation also triggers emissions per capita in Amazonian municipalities. Each resident of São Félix do Xingu, for example, emits 225 tons of CO2e per year, almost 22 times more than the average gross emissions per capita in Brazil, 12 times more than that of the United States and six times more than that of Qatar , the country with the highest emission per capita in the world. Even worse is Colniza, in northwest Mato Grosso: sixth largest emitter in the country, with 14.3 million tons of CO2e emitted in 2018, Colniza has the highest gross per capita emission in Brazil: 358 tons. It is as if each inhabitant of the municipality had more than 300 cars running 20 kilometers a day.
On the other hand, and this is good news from the survey, extensive Amazonian municipalities with many protected areas also have major removals of greenhouse gases. This reduces so-called net emissions. The removal champion is Altamira, the largest municipality in Brazil by area, which has removals of more than 22 million tons of CO2e. São Félix do Xingu has removals of 10 million tons.
Of the ten municipalities that are champions of gross emission in the country, only three are outside the Amazon: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Serra, in Espírito Santo. The energy sector, especially transportation, stands out as the main emission factor in large cities, especially capital cities. Serra, which houses a steel mill, has its emissions mainly through industrial processes.
Oil refining and processing increase these emissions in cities like Manaus and Rio de Janeiro. And fossil thermal power plants greatly increase emissions in the cities that house them. The most striking example is Capivari de Baixo, in Santa Catarina. The municipality is home to a set of coal-fired power plants, the Jorge Lacerda complex, built in the 1960s and which has three plants, with an installed capacity of 857 megawatts. Capivari de Baixo is the largest emitter in Brazil by area: it emits 85,633 tons of CO2 per km2.
Waste treatment, although accounting for only 4% of Brazil's gross emissions, is an important source of emissions for cities - especially the most populous. Rio leads this sector, with 5.6 million tons, followed by São Paulo, which, despite having twice the population, emits 5.45 million tons, due to the greater efficiency in the treatment of garbage and the capture of methane to generate energy in landfills.
"Until today, less than 5% of Brazilian municipalities had an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. Now everyone will have the data for a 20-year series and we hope that this will serve as a stimulus to promote local development with reduced emissions and coping. climate change ", explains Tasso Azevedo, general coordinator of SEEG. "As the data is made available openly and free of charge, it also means a huge saving of public resources, which can be focused on actions to reduce emissions", he adds.
See interactive charts with SEEG Municipalities data here. The complete data will be available from Thursday on the platform http://seeg.eco.br. Following are other highlights from SEEG Municipalities.
Energy Sectors and Industrial Processes
Land Use Change (MUT) and Forests Sector
About the Climate Observatory: network formed in 2002, composed of 63 non-governmental organizations and social movements. It acts for the progress of dialogue, public policies and decision-making processes on climate change in the country and globally. Website: http://oc.eco.br.
About SEEG: The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimation System was created in 2012 to comply with a PNMC (National Policy on Climate Change) determination. The decree that regulates the PNMC established that the country should produce annual emission estimates, in order to monitor the implementation of the policy. The government, however, did not produce them. National inventories, fundamental instruments for getting to know the country's emissions profile in detail, are published only every five years.
SEEG (http://seeg.eco.br) was the first national initiative to produce annual estimates for the entire economy. Launched in 2012 and incorporated into the Climate Observatory the following year, it is one of the largest national databases on greenhouse gas emissions in the world, comprising Brazilian emissions from five sectors (Agriculture, Energy, Industrial Processes, Waste and Change in Use of Earth).
The estimates are generated according to the guidelines of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), based on the Brazilian Inventories of Anthropogenic Emissions and Removal of Greenhouse Gases, from the MCTIC (Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications).
Researchers from the NGOs worked at SEEG Municipalities: Ipam and Imazon (Land Use Change), Imaflora (Agropecuária), Iema (Energy and Industrial Processes) and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability (Waste).