Brazil achieves 70% reduction in Amazon deforestation

June 19, 2014

Tim Radford – RTCC, 6/16/2014

Brazil might or might not win the World Cup, but it so far seems a clear winner in the race to reduce carbon emissions, having stopped 3.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide from escaping into the atmosphere during the last decade.

A team of economists and scientists report in the US journal Science that Brazil has achieved this, since 2004, by simply not cutting down 86,000 square kilometres of rainforest. This is, in effect, a 70% decline in deforestation, and in 2013 alone such abstention amounted to a 1.5% drop in global carbon emissions.

It sounds like eccentric accounting – awarding credits for unauthorised destruction that didn’t happen – but it represents a change of course all the same.

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How satellite maps can halt Amazon deforestation

June 19, 2014

Rachel Huguet – Christian Science Monitor, 6/18/2014

In the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, a group of scientists have become unconventional crusaders in the battle to halt deforestation. They are the engine behind Imazon, one of the most prolific research groups based in the Amazon.

Imazon is now collaborating with the government of the Brazilian state of Pará to combine real-time satellite imagery and advanced mapping techniques with a system of incentives and penalties to embolden indigenous communities, local governments, and farmers to protect the rainforest.

Until recently, Pará was the epicenter of unchecked rainforest devastation. Known locally for its rural corruption and banditry, the region had been losing 6,255 square kilometers of rich biodiversity annually – an area roughly the size of Delaware. The assault threatened the territory of some of the last untouched tribes in the world, and chipped away at the Amazon’s ability to absorb 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year, a critical factor in regulating the earth’s climate cycle.

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Drought could drain more than Brazil’s coffee crop

February 24, 2014

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro – NPR, 2/23/2014

Brazil, a country usually known for its rainforests, has been facing a severe drought in its breadbasket region, leaving people in the cities without water and farmers in the countryside with dying crops. Global prices for coffee, in particular, have been affected.

Scientists in Brazil say the worst is yet to come — yet no one in the government, it seems, is listening.

On a recent day, farmer Juliano Jose Polidor walks through the desiccated remains of his cornfields.

What’s happened to this crop, he says, is a total loss.

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Climate change: get ready to adapt!

March 15, 2013

Otaviano Canuto – Huffington Post, 02/27/2013

WB President Jim Yong Kim’s recent Washington Post op-ed “Make Climate Change a Priority” warned that “global warming imperils all of the development gains we have made.” Jim Kim drew on a recent World Bank report that points to the possibility for global temperatures to rise by 4 degrees Celsius or more by the end of the century, with severe natural, economic and social impacts.

Jim Kim’s call is all the more urgent given how grim are actual trends on efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Growth in world carbon emissions from energy use in the 2000s more than tripled compared to the 1990s, averaging 3 percent a year. After repeated failures in negotiations, the goal of a global agreement on mitigation feels to be even further away today than 20 years ago. With current battles over fiscal policy, U.S. government spending on energy R&D is expected to fall rather than rise in coming years. Many experts have concluded that the aim of keeping global temperature increases down to 2 degrees Celsius or less (roughly equal to an atmospheric concentration of equivalent carbon dioxide of 450 ppm or less) is now simply no longer feasible.A study by the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum found that in most cases its models simply could not solve for a 450 ppm scenario.

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Doha conference: carbon cuts talks must wait, says key negotiator

November 15, 2012

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 11/15/2012

The debate on whether the world needs stronger greenhouse gas cuts to keep the planet from warming by 2C should be deferred until next year, according to Brazil‘s lead negotiator at the upcoming talks in Doha.

Ambassador Luiz Alberto Figueiredo says delegates at Qatar – the most important climate negotiations of the year – should prioritise an extension of the Kyoto protocol and the rules for a longer-term agreement rather than be distracted by the crucial but contentious issue of emissions reductions.

Environmental groups, however, are calling for greater urgency from Brazil, a country that has won plaudits at previous gatherings for leading the search for common ground between wealthy and developing nations.

With the Kyoto protocol set to expire at the end of the year, Figueiredo told the Guardian there is an urgent need to ensure the continuation of a process that has been the foundation of international discussions for more than a decade, despite its shrinking support among the initial signatories.

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Rich nations owe more to combating global climate change: Brazil

October 2, 2012

Brian Winters – Reuters, 10/01/2012

Major emerging economies’ obligations to cut emissions under a climate change agreement should not be the same as those of rich countries, Brazil’s chief negotiator said, signaling a retreat to an old position that has hamstrung years of U.N. negotiations.

Ambassador Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado told Reuters during last week’s U.N. General Assembly that Brazil is committed to working toward a global pact to cut emissions in both developed and developing nations as agreed at last year’s climate talks in Durban, South Africa.

But Figueiredo said that agreement should adhere to the U.N.’s principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities,” a line between developing and developed countries drawn in 1992 that enabled countries such as Brazil, China and India to escape mandatory carbon cuts, which the Durban summit had supposedly eliminated.

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Brazil, South Africa, India and China discuss climate change

September 21, 2012

AP/The Washington Post, 09/20/2012

Representatives of Brazil, South Africa, India and China are meeting to define a common position ahead of November’s United Nations’ climate change conference in Doha.

The four countries form the bloc known as BASIC that acts jointly in international climate change meetings.

Brazilian negotiator Luiz Alberto Figueiredo says one of the main topics being discussed in the meeting that ends on Friday is the future of the 1997 emission- limiting Kyoto Protocol that requires industrialized countries to slash emissions.

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Amazonia: What’s happening to the world’s biggest rainforest

January 18, 2012

Bryan Walsh – TIME, 01/18/2012

Deforestation in the Brazilian rain forest is slowing, but it's still happening—with major consequences for the global environment. Credit: LatinContent/Getty Images

I’d say you have to see the Amazon for yourself to understand how vast it is, but I’ve been there—and even I can’t imagine it. The rain forest is more than 2 million sq. miles—two-thirds the size of the continental United States—and the river system of the gigantic basin produces 20% of the world’s freshwater discharge. The forest holds 100 billion metric tons of carbon—equivalent to more than 10 years’ worth of global fossil-fuel emissions. And the Amazon is the global capital of wildlife biodiversity, with more species calling the forest and rivers home than scientists could ever hope to name. It’s safe to say that as the Amazon goes, so goes the planet’s environment.

The problem is that the Amazon is anything but secure. As Amazon basin nations like Brazil have grown economically, they’ve moved to cut down the forest, making room for agriculture. (Which, it should be noted, is exactly what Americans did to their own once vast Eastern forests.) The human population in the Brazilian Amazon has grown from 6 million in 1960 to 25 million in 2010, while forest cover has declined to about 80% of its original area. Deforestation rates have slowed in recent years, but as a new review in this week’s Nature shows, the Amazon basin is changing, under pressure from natural variability in the weather, drought, global warming and deforestation. The question remains: just how resilient is the Amazon?

From the Nature article, written by Eric Davidson of the Woods Hole Research Center and his colleagues:

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Brazil eases rules on conserving Amazon rainforest

May 25, 2011

BBC, 05/25/2011

Brazil is one of the world's biggest agricultural producers

Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies has voted to ease restrictions on the amount of land farmers must preserve as forest.

The amended law also grants some amnesties for previous deforestation.

Supporters say Brazil needs land to boost agricultural production, while environmentalists say destruction of the Amazon rainforest will increase.

Read more…


What’s behind the Belo Monte dam

February 15, 2011

Rodrigo Nunes – The Guardian, 02/15/2011

Indigenous people and social movements from the Amazonian region affected by the Belo Monte dam protest in front of the presidential palace in Brasilia. Photo: Eduardo Seidl

I recently witnessed a conversation between someone working for the Brazilian federal government and an environmentalist; both were Workers’ party (PT) supporters (the ruling party of President Dilma Rousseff).

“I’m in favour of the construction of the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant,” the former said, “but I concede it’s not a ‘left versus right’ issue.”

“It isn’t,” the latter replied. “Or if it is, maybe the left isn’t who you think.”

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