By Marcelo Teixeira
SAO PAULO Nov 28 Energy is on track to overtake
deforestation for the first time as the biggest source of
greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil as Amazon rainforest
destruction recedes and energy use in Latin America's largest
economy continues to rise, a new study showed.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from land use change in
Brazil stood at 569 million tonnes in 2011, a 64 percent drop
from 2005, while energy use emissions rose 33 percent in the
same interval to 436 million tonnes.
"This year, considering the projected fall in Amazon
deforestation, it is possible to estimate total emissions would
fall below 1.5 billion tonnes, and for the first time GHG gases
from energy use and agriculture will lead," said independent
consultant Tasso Azevedo.
Last year, land use change - namely deforestation -
accounted for 36 percent of the country's greenhouse gas
emissions, while energy and agriculture accounted for 27 percent
and 28 percent respectively.
A former director of the Brazilian Forestry Service, Azevedo
authored the study published on Wednesday projecting national
emissions levels since Brazil's last official inventory in 2005.
Brazil has had success in reducing deforestation,
traditionally its main source of heat-trapping gases, an
achievement that should allow the country to reach a voluntary
target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 36 percent
Strong economic growth and more inclusive social policies in
the last years greatly expanded the country's middle class,
causing a surge in energy use as more people purchase cars and
Experts say the country will have to work on policies for
other sectors soon if it wants to keep emissions under control
"The government is still celebrating the fall on
deforestation and the probable success in meeting its emissions
reductions target. It seems that they still don't realize what
is happening", said Ronaldo Seroa da Motta, a climate and energy
researcher at the Rio de Janeiro Federal University (UFRJ).
"We are seeing a violent surge in energy use in the
transport sector. Gasoline consumption went up as well as the
amount of electricity produced by thermal power plants," he
Non-renewable sources increased their share in the energy
grid by 3.1 percent last year, while renewables fell 0.9
Azevedo said that in 2005 two thirds of Brazil's emissions
were attributed to deforestation, while that has fallen to only
one third of the total last year.
The report says Brazil's total GHG emissions reached 1.584
billion tonnes of CO2e in 2011, a 35 percent drop from 2005, a
baseline year used by countries such as the U.S. and Canada to
measure their emissions reduction goals.
Those countries pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas
emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.