Challenges of COP26
In November, the negotiations for the regulation of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement during the COP26in Glasgow (Scotland) generate the most expectations in pushing forward the progressive efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere through targets known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). "Brazil is currently the fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world and what is decided at the COP will greatly affect our economy, our sectoral policies and our development plans", said Marina Piatto, Imaflora's executive secretary, in the training course Unravelling COP for Communicators, held by the Forest Code Observatory.
Unlike other countries that have a profile based on fossil fuels, Brazil has a profile of emissions from land use. Of the two million tonnes of carbon equivalent emitted in 2019, 44% stemmed from land use, specifically deforestation, 28% from direct emissions due to agriculture and livestock, 20% from energy, and industry and waste at a lower percentage. "If we add all the emissions from land use, deforestation, plus agriculture and cattle ranching, we can see that 73% of the country's emissions derive from agriculture, cattle ranching and forests. It is a profile that is quite different from most other countries", stated Piatto.
Deforestation has increased and the states with the largest deforested areas are Pará, Mato Grosso and Tocantins and most of this deforestation occurs within private areas, within farms. The System for Estimates of Emissions and Removals of Greenhouse Gases (SEEG), shows that the state that emits most is Mato Grosso, followed by Goiás and Minas Gerais. “Most are because of the cattle herd, the beef cattle, and most of their emissions are from enteric fermentation. In most municipalities in Brazil, the largest volume of emissions comes from agriculture and cattle-breeding and this is what connects agriculture and the forest to COP. In Brazil, the greatest hope for emission reduction needs to be in the forestry and agriculture sectors by committing to the reduction of deforestation and also to better farming practices", explained Piatto.
This profile also connects Brazil directly to the Article 6 negotiations which, in short, focuses on carbon trading mechanisms between countries. "If we manage to keep our forest standing, we have a very large carbon asset that can be traded," said Piatto. In her view, Brazil presented some targets that could be more ambitious.
The COP negotiations will be intense. Brazil is the only country that has a Forest Code as a law and, according to the rules, what is law cannot be considered an addition. Furthermore, the carbon credit of a standing forest will also have a more affordable effective cost than most technologies that need to be adopted by the energy sector to replace fossil fuels. The negotiations need to avoid an imbalance and this is in the discussion of article 6 that refers to financial mechanisms.
In the public sector, national targets need to be transformed into public policy, with agreements
also in the private sector, which will translate into agriculture with fewer emissions from various sources, including deforestation.
Brazil can also be a powerhouse in carbon sequestration. In beef cattle breeding, for example, it has the largest commercial herd in the world with 220 million heads of cattle, more animals than Brazilians. The proper management of degraded pasture can lead to a reduction of up to 25% of emissions per hectare and 60% per kilo of meat produced. Our productive system is still very underused and needs a large technology transfer that can be boosted by the financial mechanisms of the carbon market, which will be discussed at COP.
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