- 60% of the Amazon rainforest is located in Brazil.
- Severe drought in the rainforest in 2005 affected 70 million hectares of trees.
- The heavily-populated São Paulo region is currently facing its worst drought in 80 years.
- Brazil plans to double its use of non-hydro power renewables by 2030.
Brazil, the fifth largest country by both population and size, is home to 60% of the Amazon rainforest. The rainforest operates as a “carbon sink,” removing harmful carbon dioxide and replacing it with oxygen. The rainforest also holds 10% of the world’s biodiversity, making this region one of the most ecologically important in the world, but the entire ecosystem is currently at risk because of climate change and land-use changes. Changes in the Amazon could have direct impacts on the rest of the region.
Climate Change Impact
- While the climate in the region is already variable due to the periodic effects of El Nino, causing droughts in some areas and flooding in others, recent studies have suggested that climate change could strengthen the weather system.
- Droughts, such as the 2015 Brazilian drought affecting the areas from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, could become the new norm if global warming and deforestation continue to alter the region’s climate. The Amazon has also seen unusual droughts and catastrophic fires that are pushing the rainforest towards a “tipping point.” Widespread and long-lasting changes in the Amazon’s ecosystem could have implications for the region and the world because the water that is released from plants, also called evapotranspiration, affects everything from precipitation to ocean currents, and is one of the main factors contributing to the 2015 drought.
- Agriculture will be significantly impacted, with crop yields set to decline and losses of around $3 billion a year after 2020.
- Large changes in water levels would also negatively impact the country’s hydroelectricity supply, which provides 80 percent of its electricity.
- Inequality would like worsen in the north and northeast, where the poorest of the population live.
- Brazil has shown leadership by committing in June 2015 to obtain 20 percent of its energy from non-hydropower renewables, effectively doubling its renewable use, by 2030 alongside the United States.
- With its 2010 U.N. commitment, Brazil pledged to decrease its emissions between 36.1% and 38.9% below business-as-usual levels.
- Brazil has incorporated these targets in its national law under the National Climate Change Policy.
- Climate Scope rated Brazil to have the best investment climate for clean energy and building a greener economy in Latin America.
WWF in Brazil
WWF started working in Brazil in 1971 and officially opened an office there in 1996. WWF-Brazil has worked extensively on conservation and projects in the Amazon, Cerrado scrubland, Atlantic Forest, and Pantanal wetlands. The office has also focused on reducing the environmental impacts of agriculture, mainly through the impacts of soy plantations in Brazil.