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GHG Mitigation in Brazil's Land Use Sector

An Introduction to the Current National Policy Landscape

Brazil aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 36.1 percent to 38.9 percent from a projected baseline by 2020 through several sectoral plans and initiatives. This paper provides an overview of GHG mitigation plans in Brazil’s land use sector. Key initiatives include the Action Plan to Prevent and Control Deforestation in the Amazon (PPCDAm); the Action Plan to Prevent and Control Deforestation and Fire in the Cerrado (PPCerrado); and the Low-Carbon Agriculture Plan (ABC Plan). The paper analyzes the status of each plan and identifies factors that could improve policy implementation.

Key Findings

Executive Summary

Brazil has developed a suite of sector-specific greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation actions that it estimates will result in a reduction of 36.1 percent to 38.9 percent below a projected hypothetical baseline in 2020. Although framed as voluntary at the international level, this pledge is enshrined in Brazil’s National Policy for Climate Change (PNMC), which mandates the development of sectoral plans to implement specific mitigation actions.

Brazil’s sectoral mitigation plans are in different stages of development and implementation. This paper focuses on the plans to reduce deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado regions, and the low-carbon agriculture plan. These plans are critical for near-term GHG mitigation because the agriculture, forestry, and other land use (AFOLU) sector is currently the largest source of GHG emissions in Brazil. Initial observations on these mitigation plans point to both successes and opportunities for improvement.

  • The Action Plan to Prevent and Control Deforestation in the Amazon (PPCDAm), although not yet fully implemented, has helped to slow deforestation. Nevertheless, emerging challenges could jeopardize the progress to date. Challenges include the bureaucratic difficulties for landowners to harmonize their property and production with the law, the increasing demand for soy and beef in the market, and the lack of alternative and equivalent sustainable production options. Also important have been steps to soften legislation and weak law enforcement and governance. A sustainable reduction in deforestation will require not only monitoring and control but also positive incentives and the resolution of governance problems.

  • The Action Plan to Prevent and Control Deforestation and Fire in the Cerrado (PPCerrado) aims to reduce deforestation in the Cerrado biome by 40 percent by 2020 compared to historical deforestation rates. The PPCerrado’s actions are organized into four pillars; the sustainable activities pillar is currently the most thoroughly implemented. A key challenge facing the PPCerrado is devising a system to monitor land use and land cover changes.

  • In the agriculture sector, key actors lack the capacity to access resources for mitigation actions. In the first year of implementation of the Low-Carbon Agriculture Plan (ABC Plan) (2010-11), only five projects were approved for funding. However, more projects were financed in the next year (2011-12), totaling 5,038 projects, the majority in the southeast of Brazil. Actions are underway to enhance the effectiveness of the ABC Plan, including the provision of enhanced resources and capacity under the Forest Investment Program.

Whether Brazil can meet its AFOLU mitigation targets depends in part on its identification of and access to different types of financing to support actions. National and international institutions can support these targets through public investments, credits, taxes, carbon markets, and other financial mechanisms. Currently, the PNMC includes only a few national initiatives for financing mitigation in the forest sector, including the Amazon Fund and the National Fund on Climate Change. These funds face challenges related to resources, program implementation, and effectiveness. Additionally, Brazil’s National REDD+ Strategy and new Forest Law, enacted in May 2012, are likely to have a significant effect on the AFOLU sector (and are summarized below).

Our introductory review of Brazil’s national AFOLU policy landscape indicates that the plans analyzed herein could be implemented more effectively through efforts focused on:

  • engaging a broader range of civil society stakeholders in the climate debate, and promoting more transparency in policymaking;

  • enhancing policy performance monitoring and evaluation of the short-, medium, and long-term impacts of policy investments and mitigation actions for climate change;

  • integrating different institutions, policies, and sectors in Brazil, including better coordination between ministries and different levels of government, as well as between climate policies and major development policies; and

  • providing greater clarity regarding long-term funding.

In addition to a preliminary overview of the Government’s strategies to reduce GHG emissions and actions in the AFOLU sector, this paper first provides critical background information, including key metrics and summaries of Brazil’s international pledge and relevant government institutions. It also analyzes Brazil’s estimated GHG emissions trajectory and highlights policy development issues that may be important in the months and years to come. An in-depth analysis of other sectors—including energy, transport, and industry—is beyond the scope of this paper, but will be prioritized in future research by the Open Climate Network to provide a more comprehensive view of Brazil’s approach to climate change mitigation.

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