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Climate change

Brazil is a party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and is also a signatory to the UNFCCC International Climate Change Agreement (Paris Agreement), which was signed by Brazil in December 2015, ratified in September 2016 and recently transformed into a federal law by means of Federal Decree No. 9,073/2017. For this reason, Brazil is therefore obliged to comply with the goals that the local government proposed in the Agreement (nationally determined contributions (NDCs)), such as reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 37 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025. To achieve these goals, Brazil committed itself to increase the share of sustainable biofuels in the local energy mix to approximately 18 per cent by 2030 (and, at the same time, to achieve a total amount of 45 per cent of renewables in the same energy mix) and also restore and reforest 12 million hectares of forests.

Focusing on the importance of biofuels to attaining the Paris Agreement goals, in December 2017, Federal Law No. 13,576/2017 was published. The Law institutes the National Biofuels Policy, RenovaBio, establishing principles, objectives, rationales and instruments. It also contemplates the Biofuels Certification, goals for reduction of GHG emissions for the fuel sector, and issuance and negotiation of decarbonisation credits. Subsequently, in June 2018, the National Energy Policy Council published Resolution No. 05/2018, setting the annual mandatory goals for reduction of GHG emissions in the fuel sector for the following 10 years (2018 to 2028).

While the Kyoto Protocol was still valid, Brazil performed a leading role in the trading of allowances derived from clean development mechanisms, registering more than 2,500 projects during that period and also enacted its own National Policy on Climate Change (Law No. 12,187/2009), national main legislation that has established a voluntary commitment to achieve a GHG emissions reduction of between 36.1 and 38.9 per cent by 2020 (however, such commitment shall be reviewed because of the new goals set for Brazil in the Paris Agreement). Several Brazilian states have also enacted their own state policies. Markets in the trade of carbon allowances within the country are in operation; however, at present these are just minor initiatives. The Paris Agreement is expected to boost initiatives from public authorities, expand local markets, stimulate mitigation and adaptation measures, and relevant private and public funding mechanisms.

The next steps taken by the country to tackle climate change will depend on the recently elected federal government, with a new president and Congress for the 2019 to 2022 quadrennial. In any case, owing to the goals that Brazil committed to achieve in the Paris Agreement, biofuels, deforestation and land use activities, such as agriculture, are a key focus for actions to be developed by Brazil to satisfy its GHG reduction targets.