Case Study - Brazil

(CIA: World FactBook, 2009)

(CIA: World FactBook, 2009)


Unlike many countries, the majority of Brazil’s emissions do not come from fossil fuels. In fact, according to the Ministry of Mines and Energy, in 2005 the national electricity matrix was composed of 84% hydroelectricity, 4% biomass energy, 4% natural gas, 4% diesel and fuel oil, 1% coal and 3% nuclear energy (Greenpeace, 2008). As a result, fossil fuels are responsible for only 25% of the country’s emissions, of which 15% are from stationary sources (Cunha, et al., 2007). While 25% may seem low, in 2005, Brazil emitted a total of 360 million metric tons of fossil fuel carbon dioxide which is the 18th highest national emissions in the world. Still, this amount is significantly less than the United States (5,957 billion metric tons) or China (5,323 billion metric tons), who are respectively the highest carbon dioxide emitters globally (Miranda, E E, 2008).

The cause for major concern in Brazil is deforestation, which is responsible for approximately 75% of Brazil’s emissions (Cunha, et al., 2007). However, due to environmentalists’ critiques and government projects such as the Action Plan to Prevent and Control Deforestation in the Amazon (2004), there has been an increasing focus on territory planning, environmental monitoring and incentives for sustainable production. Other plans and programs to reduce emissions include PROALCOOL, whose goal is to produce ethanol and use it to replace gasoline in lights vehicles , the Program of Production and Use of Biodiesel, which establishes a mandatory addition of 5 percent of biodiesel into petroleum diesel by 2013 , PROINFA, which aims at the increase of electrical energy generated from the wind, small hydro plants, and biomass , and the National Plan for Climate Change (PNMC), which has introduced the ambitious objective of reducing deforestation in the Amazon by 72% by 2017.

The growth of the industrial and transportation sectors and the rise of the consumption and generation of energy fueled an increase in Brazil’s emissions by 24.6% between 1990 and 2005 (Garcia, 2009). As a consequence, Brazil’s emissions profile has gradually started to change to that of a developed country’s profile. In 2006, per capita carbon dioxide emissions from the consumption and flaring of fossil fuels in Brazil were 2.01 metric tons per year, an increase of 23% as compared to the emissions in 1980 (Vaughan, 2009).

Despite an increase in its emissions, Brazil has a large CO2 storage capacity of ca. 2000Gt (Ketzer et al., 2007). Moreover, most of the stationary sources are located in southeastern Brazil, where the majority of the petroleum fields and saline aquifers are located, encouraging for future carbon capture and sequestration implementation.

Brazil's point source emissions (J. M. Ketzer, et al., 2007)

Brazil's point source emissions (J. M. Ketzer, et al., 2007)

Emissions Reductions

Brazil has recently come up with a plan to reduce its predicted future emissions by 36-39% by 2020.  This will ultimately cause a reduction of their 2005 emissions by 15- 25% (Fransen, 2009).  They plan to bring about this reduction with the use of seven methods--low carbon development, renewable energy, biofuels, forest cover, vulnerability and adaption, as well as research and development (Lang, 2009). Deforestation, the number one cause of emissions of Brazil, is to be reduced by 70%; 80% in the Amazon and 40% in Cerrado, ultimately saving the planet from 4.18 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions. They also plan to increase their use of renewable energy, such as hydropower and other alternative sources, as well as increase the Brazilian ethanol program. The plan also includes the recovery of pastures, farming, ranching, and biological nitrogen fixation as well as the substitution of charcoal in pig iron production. Brazil has also doubled their monitoring of illegal wood plants and logging, and has begun to enforce their land licensing policy (Fransen, 2009).

Sequestration Potential

The United Nations has outlined a plan for Brazil to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. This reduction would allow for 20% of its cuts to be implemented through carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). Petrobas, the leading oil company in Brazil, and the CARBMAP project have identified 39700 metric tons of potential CO2 storage a year in the Reconavo Basin through CCS; 3.54 million metric tons of CO2 in the Campos Basin with CCS using petroleum fields and saline aquifers; 0.25 million metric tons of CO2 in the Parana Basin with in situ, saline aquifers and coal seam sequestration; and 1.72 million metric tons of CO2 storage a year in the Potiguar Basin with CCS. Petrobas claims that these projects will sequester just under 8.16 million metric tons of CO2 a year combined. The CARBMAP project also includes Santos Basin, which has saline aquifers and petroleum oil fields that can store up to 73 million metric tons of carbon a year (Ketzer, et al., 2007; Lang, 2009). Given that Brazil has the potential to be at the forefront of emissions reductions, it remains to be seen whether its initiatives and participation in international environmental policy negotiations will move forward.

Saline aquifer potential in Brazil  (Ketzer, et al., 2007)

Saline aquifer potential in Brazil  (Ketzer, et al., 2007)

Saline aquifer potential in Brazil  (Ketzer, et al.,2007)

Saline aquifer potential in Brazil  (Ketzer, et al.,2007)