Brazilian National Energy Plan

A bit of journalism. I wrote this article to the Climate Change Partnership website. It brings the other side of the story of Brazil being a very “green” country, such as was widely said at the UN Climate Conference in Poznan, Poland, last December. The article is self-explanatory. But I must add a line about the CCMP.

It is a very interesting initiative by the organizations Internews, Panos and IIED to support developing world journalists to report on the UN Climate Conference. Every year they bring up to 40 journalists from developing nations (whose media outlets could not afford their trip otherwise) to the Conference. They provide a great structure with workshops, briefings, excusive press conferences and equipment for journalists such as myself, with the goal to improve and diversify the world media coverage of the Summit. It’s worth having a look at the website to check the great and diverse content these journalists have produced The Climate Media Partnership.

Brazil: energy plan ‘contradicts’ Poznan promises

The Brazilian National Energy Plan for 2008-2017, recently published by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, has come under severe criticism. The project aims at increasing the energy capacity from 99.7 thousand megawatts to 154.7 thousand megawatts. But environmentalists claim it champions dirty technologies over clear and renewable ones.

According to the plan, the share of hydropower will decrease from 85.9% to 75.9% of the total. There is also no mention whatsoever to energy efficiency. “The plan ignores the advantages of reducing consumption or enhancing efficiency in the energy sector”, says Greenpeace Brazil director Marcelo Furtado.

But the main problem for many is the planned expansion of the thermo-electric sector. Eighty-one new thermo-electric plants are to be built – more than half of them in the northeastern states. They will be fuelled mostly by oil and diesel, but four of them, to be built in the south of the country, will be coal-fuelled. Together they will will emit 39.3 million tonnes of carbon per year – a 172% increase over current emissions from the sector.

Critics say the plan conflicts with measures announced by the Brazilian Environment Minister Carlos Minc at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland. The Brazilian National Climate Plan foresees a 70% reduction in deforestation in the Amazon by 2018. That would avoid an emission of 4,8 billion tonnes of carbon.

Marcelo Furtado calls the Brazilian policies “schizophrenic”: “While the government made noise in Poznan by adopting targets to reduce deforestation, it now announces an increase in emissions. It’s a Greek present for the Brazilian population.”

Former Environment Minister Marina da Silva believes the National Plan “contradicts” the National Climate Plan announced in Poznan. For her, Brazil should adopt wind power as a main energy source. 

Last year Greenpeace published the report “Energetic (R)Evolution” with suggestions for clean and renewable energy in Brazil. The report claims such energies could account for about 88% of the total, with wind power providing a big share.

But the National Energy Plan foresees timid investments in the sector, with an increase from 0.3% of the total to 0.9%, ignoring a huge potential according to the organization.

Some critics also call the whole process obscure. The plan was officially launched on December 24 and was open for consultation until the end of January. Organizations such as Instituto Socio-Ambiental (ISA) claim that a wider consultation, and more time, is needed to make it more democratic. After huge pressure, the government postponed the deadline to the end of February.