Deforestation boosts Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions as global emissions fall
Image credit: Vampy1 | Dreamstime
A new study suggests that while emissions globally have dropped as a result of coronavirus lockdowns, Brazil could produce more climate-warming gases this year due to deforestation and farming.
The report is published by Brazilian environmental advocacy group Climate Observatory. Its researchers analysed current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions trajectories in sectors across the economy, and found that the country could produce 10-20 per cent more of these gases this year, compared to the most recent data from 2018.
According to another study published in Nature Climate Change, global emissions of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas, are expected to fall by seven per cent this year. This would be the largest single annual decrease in absolute emissions since the end of World War Two.
Unlike much of the world, Brazil gets the vast majority of its energy from renewable sources like hydroelectric dams and wind farms and relies heavily on biofuels with lower emissions. But its emissions from sources like agriculture and deforestation more than offset any declines in other areas, the study found.
“In total, the trend is for 2020 GHG emissions in Brazil to rise,” the report explained. “This is because the principal source of emissions, land-use change (44 per cent of emissions in 2018), is booming due to the rise in Amazon deforestation, which is advancing despite the pandemic.”
The Amazon, 60 per cent of which lies in Brazil, is the world's largest rainforest and absorbs vast amounts of greenhouse gas. Deforestation in Brazil’s section of the Amazon in the first four months of the year was up 55 per cent from a year ago, according to preliminary government data.
In agriculture, the study also highlighted that slaughtering of cattle has slowed in Brazil amid the crisis, leaving more animals in the field where they continue to belch up methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
According to a report published by Greenpeace, the cattle sector in the Brazilian Amazon is the largest driver of deforestation in the world, responsible for one in every eight hectares destroyed globally. It added that efforts to halt global deforestation emissions must tackle this particular sector.
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