Brazil’s Climate Change

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BRASÍLIA, Brazil — Brazil is home to the Amazon rainforest, one of the most important forests in the fight against climate change. While the Amazon rainforest currently functions as a sink for carbon dioxide, deforestation reverses that effect, making the forest a producer of carbon emissions.

According to a study published in Science magazine, researchers found that Brazil’s policies toward deforestation have done a great deal to reduce its carbon footprint.

The study found that Brazil has prevented 3.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide from entering our atmosphere since 2004, more than any other country.

Back in 2005, Brazil had the highest deforestation rate of any country. Burning and destroying the forest for agricultural production released immense amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and made the nation one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters.

More recently, Brazil has reduced its deforestation by 70 percent while increasing its soy and beef production. A number of policies have contributed to the change in Brazil.

Supply chain interventions in soy and beef production, enforcement of laws, restrictions to easy credit and the expansion of protected areas have all worked to reduce deforestation. An additional contributor was the reduction in demand for new deforestation.

However, a number of possible problems could result in an increase in deforestation. The supply chain is dependent upon corporate risk management and is capable of being changed to favor deforestation. Furthermore, existing public policies rely mainly on punitive measures. Policies based on positive incentives have been designed but not yet implemented.

The most promising methods are territorial approaches. In addition to their effectiveness, territorial approaches allow for a framework to further develop sustainable development.

Brazil’s climate change reduction is especially important for the country. Climate change has caused increased weather variation in Brazil, affecting Brazil’s coffee production.

The coffee crop is incredibly sensitive to weather changes. Too much rainfall will result in a dangerous fungus while too little sucks the tree dry. This year, an extended drought in Brazil caused farmers to lose almost 11 million bags of coffee, a fifth of the country’s typical 55 million bags.

Although coffee production will most likely rebound to 50 million bags next year, the effects of climate change will continue to make weather conditions more variable.

While the weather will continue to become more variable, overall temperatures will increase, effectively destroying much of the rainforest. By 2050, 30 percent to 60 percent of the rainforest is expected to become a dry savanna.

Brazil’s climate change efforts have been effective, but more must be done to prevent the Amazon from disappearing. As conditions worsen, those living in poverty will be the most affected.

Sources: Think Progress, The Carbon Brief, Science 1, Science 2, National Geographic, WWF
Photo: Alphacoders

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