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Brazil Leads the World in Climate Change Mitigation
By Michael Schweibinz

Just ten years ago, Brazil had the highest deforestation rate in the world. Today, the World Cup host does more than any other country to prevent climate change.

A recent study by Science Magazine found that Brazil has reduced deforestation in the Amazon rain forest by 70%. In doing so, the country has prevented 3.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere—given the fact that forests use carbon during growth and release carbon when burned.

Brian Clark Howard writes in National Geographic that “for the first time in history, we are stopping the process of forest loss on a frontier before it gets seriously depleted, while continuing to develop economies that still have substantial forest cover.”

Various factors have contributed to Brazil’s success in saving over 80% of the original Amazon rain forest. Science Magazine acknowledges Brazil’s effective techniques, which range from law enforcement, to soy and beef supply chain interventions, to credit restrictions, to expansion of protected areas. Since 2004, these combined efforts have helped to save over 33,000 square miles of rainforest from clear-cutting—that’s the equivalent of 14.3 million soccer fields.

While Brazil’s efforts have been strong, there is certainly room for growth. “The supply chain interventions that fed into this deceleration are precariously dependent on corporate risk management, and public policies have relied excessively on punitive measures. Systems for delivering positive incentives for farmers to forgo deforestation have been designed but not fully implemented. Territorial approaches to deforestation have been effective and could consolidate progress in slowing deforestation while providing a framework for addressing other important dimensions of sustainable development.”

There is clearly room for improvement, but Brazil appears to be on the right track. The country has tightened restrictions on the amount of land that can be cleared by landowners; yet production levels of both soy and beef have risen. Consequently, the country has emerged as a model for the rest of the world—demonstrating how sustainability and economic growth can go hand-in-hand.

 

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Posted: June 25, 2014