Environmentalist Surges Ahead In Brazilian Presidential Polling

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.

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Rubber-tapper’s daughter on course to save Amazon and Brazil

August 28, 2014

James Hider – The Times, 8/28/2014

A year ago, Marina Silva, the orphan daughter of Amazon rubber-tappers, was struggling to garner enough votes to run as an independent for president.

She had quit the Green party for being too mainstream, even though she came third on their ticket in 2010. Without the requisite signatures to stand on her own, the devout evangelical Christian environmentalist agreed to become running mate for Eduardo Campos, the Socialist party candidate.

Polling at just 10 per cent, he was lagging far behind President Dilma Rousseff. When Mr. Campos died two weeks ago in a plane crash.

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Brazil Vows Water Supply Is Under Control as Basins Dry

August 28, 2014

Vanessa Dezem – Bloomberg, 8/28/2014

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.

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Brazil Coffee Output Set for Longest Decline Since 1965

August 28, 2014

Marvin G. Perez and Morgane Lapeyre – Bloomberg, 8/28/2014

A prolonged drought in Brazil has already claimed about half of Jose Francisco Pereira’s coffee crop. Next year could be even worse as the country heads for the first three-year output decline since 1965.

“Everybody is praying for rain,” said Pereira, general director of Monte Alegre Coffees, a grower with 2,500 hectares (6,280 acres) based in Alfenas, Minas Gerais, that forecast this season’s harvest at 45,000 bags, down from 82,000 last year.

Production in Brazil, the world’s top grower, may drop as much as 18 percent to 40.1 million bags when the harvest ends next month, the National Coffee Council estimates, after a 3.1 percent slide last year. With damage worsening before the start of spring in the Southern Hemisphere, the council said farmers may collect less than 40 million bags in 2015, creating the longest slump in five decades.

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Deforestation: Brazil is a success story for conservation

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.

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GE to add 1.5GW Brazil wind by 2016

August 27, 2014

Recharge News, 8/26/2014

General Electric anticipates that it will have an additional 1.5GW of wind energy capacity installed in Brazil by the end of 2015, company executive Jean-Claude Fernand Robert told an exclusive Recharge Thought Leaders lunch here.

Robert, head of renewable energy at GE for Latin America, made his forecast as GE announced that it has now 1GW in Brazil wind installations.

During the first half, GE connected 381 wind turbines to the grid in Brazil, providing 600MW generating capacity. GE claims to have connected 184 of these turbines in one week alone for developer Renova Energia.

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A clearing in the trees

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.

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