COMMENT: Conservation through incentive, innovation, and entrepreneurship

Published 16:57 on May 18, 2022  /  Last updated at 23:22 on May 18, 2022  / Ben Garside /  Americas, International, Nature-based, Paris Article 6, South & Central, Voluntary

Brazil's environment minister, Joaquim Leite, outlines his government's green economy plans and its intention to be the world's biggest exporter of carbon credits.

By Joaquim Leite, Minister of the Environment, Brazil

Like most of the 194 signatory countries of the Paris Agreement, Brazil faces environmental challenges. We need to talk about the Amazon, the 100 million Brazilians without access to basic sanitation and another 35 million who don’t have access to drinking water; additionally, very low recycling rates (around 3%), 2,600 open-air dumps and an inefficient transport matrix.

But we also have to talk about actions. Since 2019, the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment has been working together with the private sector to find profitable climate and environmental solutions for all. We reversed the logic of previous governments, which only acted to fine, reduce and blame. It’s time for encouragement, of innovation, of entrepreneurship. The goal is clear: to create a true green economy, capable of generating employment and income for all Brazilians.

To protect the forests, the Federal Government has strengthened the efforts against illegal deforestation. New monitoring systems were created and the “Guardioes do Bioma” (‘Biome Guardians’) operations were implemented to fight organised crime in the Amazon region.

Together, the 334 natural parks, reserves and other types of conservation units in the country represent 20% of the national territory. An area which is now managed under new concession models – from ecotourism to programmes that acknowledge the importance of carbon from native vegetation. Innovative models that value the work of communities and foster an environment of innovation.

The government is also implementing programmes such as “Lixao Zero” (‘Zero Waste’), which has closed 20% of the dumps since 2019 and “Recicla+”, which created the innovative recycling credit, in addition to several sectorial reverse logistics agreements that have broken records for the return of medicines, car batteries, electronics, lubricating oils, aluminium cans and pesticides. We have also intensified measures to fight plastic pollution through various programmes such as “Combate ao Lixo no Mar” (‘Combating Waste at Sea’), “Rios +Limpos” (‘Cleaner Rivers’), and especially “Campo Limpo” (‘Clean Countryside’), a reverse logistics programme for the packaging of agricultural pesticides, which has a return rate of 94%.

At the global stage, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in the agreements, as guidelines to reduce plastic waste at sea, is something Brazil deems essential.

We were the first country to convert commitments made during COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland, into concrete measures. Launched in March of this year, the Zero Methane Program provides for exemption from federal taxes, specific financing and the creation of the innovative methane credit.

There are plenty of examples.

But we can do more. And will do. The development of the carbon market in Brazil shows that there is an opportunity to combine environmental preservation with the generation of wealth and economic development. During COP26, Brazil led the discussions, articulating with more than 70 countries for the approval of the Global Carbon Market. Due to its natural characteristics, the country will be the biggest exporter of carbon credits to the world.

Between May 18-20, the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment will be transferred to Rio de Janeiro. This is historical. We will be at the Botanical Gardens during the Global Carbon Market and Green Investments Congress, held by Banco do Brasil and Petrobras.

Our country offers many opportunities. Payment for environmental services, especially those linked to carbon from native forests, billions of Brazilian Reais already allocated for water and sewage treatment, the correct destination of solid waste for recycling or large-scale energy generation, treatment of organic waste for the production of bioenergy and biofuel, the various routes to reduce emissions in the automotive sector, such as biofuels, ethanol, stationary engines, biomethane, electric, hybrid and natural gas-powered vehicles, in addition to the potential to double onshore wind and solar energy sources.

And there, in Rio de Janeiro, during these three days, we will be meeting with CEOs of large national and international companies, entrepreneurs, investors and global leaders, so that we can discuss and find ways to move rationally and effectively towards a green economy.

Brazil is the protagonist of this global solution. The Federal Government laid the foundations for the “Programa de Crescimento Verde” (‘Green Growth Program’). Its main banks already have a line of credit and investments in the order of $50 billion, encouraging, prioritising and accelerating projects.

Never before has the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment been so close to the private sector to seek beneficial climate solutions for entrepreneurs, the people and the natural resources. With the joint participation of all agents, we will lead Brazil towards a green growth future.