August 28, 2014
Nick Cunningham – Oilprice.com, 8/28/2014
Political change could be coming to Brazil. A new Ibope poll in Brazil shows that an unexpected challenger in the 2014 presidential election would defeat incumbent President Dilma Rousseff in a hypothetical run-off.
Rousseff was once thought to be in a strong position for reelection, but Marina Silva, an ardent environmentalist, has vaulted to the front of the pack.
The daughter of a rubber tapper, Silva had humble beginnings. She grew up poor and was illiterate until she was a teenager. But after years of activism in union politics, Silva was eventually elected senator from her home state of Acre.
August 28, 2014
The state of Sao Paulo is facing its worst drought in eight decades, threatening the water supplies for 20 million people — but you wouldn’t know that by asking Brazil’s elected officials.
Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin, who is seeking re-election in October, has been minimizing the crisis for the region, which includesSouth America’s largest city. The reaction is a far cry from the response in drought-stricken California, where Governor Jerry Brownhas declared a state of emergency and residents are being fined for watering their lawns.
Sao Paulo state is already rationing water for more than 2 million people in 18 cities. The capital city’s main reservoir is now at only 12 percent of capacity, according to the water utility Cia. de Saneamento Basico do Estado de Sao Paulo, known as Sabesp. While the utility received a warning at the end of July that it risks running out of drinking water in 100 days, officials vow the situation is under control.
August 28, 2014
Eva Botkin-Kowacki – The Christian Science Monitor, 8/28/2014
Climate scientists link about 10 percent of annual global carbon increase to the effects of deforestation. But a new study points to a promising shift.
In the 1990s, tropical deforestation claimed 40 million acres each year, according to a report released in June by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Today, about 32 million acres of forests fall each year, a drop of about 19 percent.
Trees grow by absorbing carbon dioxide, locking it away in their roots, trunks, branches, and leaves, and emitting oxygen in return.
August 25, 2014
Maria Gallucci – International Business Times, 8/21/2014
Brazil’s power sector has doubled its global warming emissions in the past two years, a new analysis found. The uptick threatens to offset some of the country’s gains in slowing deforestation – an effort that climate groups say has led to dramatic cuts in carbon dioxide pollution. That could diminish the government’s negotiating power ahead of global climate talks in Paris next year, analysts say.
From January to July 2014, the cumulative monthly average of emissions grew by 182 percent for every one megawatt-hour of electricity produced, compared with the same period in 2012, according to data from Brazil’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, São Paulo-based newspaper Valor Economico reported on Thursday (link in Portuguese).
Overall, the energy sector accounts for about 30 percent of Brazil’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
August 25, 2014
The Economist (print edition), 8/23/2014
In 1998 Fernando Henrique Cardoso, then Brazil’s president, said he would triple the area of the Amazonian forest set aside for posterity. At the time the ambition seemed vain: Brazil was losing 20,000 square kilometres (7,700 square miles) of forest a year. Over the next 15 years loggers, ranchers, environmentalists and indigenous tribes battled it out—often bloodily—in the world’s largest tropical forest. Yet all the while presidents were patiently patching together a jigsaw of national parks and other protected patches of forest to create the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA), a protected area 20 times the size of Belgium. Now, less than 6,000 sq km of Brazil’s Amazonian forest is cleared each year. In May the government and a group of donors agreed to finance ARPA for 25 years. It is the largest tropical-forest conservation project in history.
This matters because of Brazil’s size: with 5m sq km of jungle, it has almost as much as the next three countries (Congo, China and Australia) put together. But it also matters for what it may signal: that the world could be near a turning point in the sorry story of tropical deforestation.
Typically, countries start in poverty with their land covered in trees. As they clear it for farms or fuel, they get richer—until alarm bells ring and they attempt to recover their losses. This happens at different stages in different places, but the trajectory is similar in most: a reverse J, steeply down, then bottoming out, then up—but only part of the way. This is usually called the “forest transition curve”. Brazil seems to be nearing the bottom. The world may be, too.
August 12, 2014
Paulo Trevisani and Priscilla Oliveira – The Wall Street Journal, 8/7/2014
Brazil’s government is again offering help to struggling power distributors caught between rising wholesale costs and controlled retail prices.
The Finance Ministry said on Thursday that it is making available 6.6 billion Brazilian reais ($2.9 billion) in credit lines to the sector. The funds will come from private and government-controlled banks.
The fresh money is meant to cover a gap in the power companies’ accounts, as a prolonged drought significantly reduced generation capacity in Brazil’s mainly hydroelectric generated power grid.