A recent report that the World Bank released has issued a stark warning, stating that climate shocks in Brazil have the potential to drive between 800,000 and 3,000,000 of its citizens into extreme poverty within the next decade. It highlighted an urgent need for Brazil to accelerate investments in renewable energy sources to mitigate the impact of changing weather patterns and foster sustainable development.
Rising Climate Shocks in Brazil and Social Consequences
The World Bank report highlights the increasingly severe climate shocks experienced in Brazil. Floods and droughts are becoming more frequent and intense, negatively impacting agricultural productivity and food security. These environmental challenges disproportionately affect the country’s poorest communities, leaving them particularly vulnerable to economic hardship, food scarcity and displacement. The Woodwell Climate Research Center modeled a study that revealed that 28% of agricultural lands are no longer in an optimal climatic range, with predictions that this percentage could reach 74% by 2060. Without action, the region is predicted to get hotter and drier.
The current trends suggest that the disruption of agricultural production by natural disasters will continue to impact food prices in Brazil. Unfortunately, the combination of extreme weather events and decreased crop yields leads to reduced food availability, driving prices higher and placing an additional burden on already strained household budgets. This drives agricultural populations to take on onerous loans to fund the next harvest, leading them further down into poverty. Weak governance and funding challenges further undermine climate action by hampering implementation and creating space for illegal activities. For example, facilitating land grabbing which is a major driver of illegal deforestation.
The Urgent Need for Renewable Energy Investments
To address the imminent threat of changing weather patterns and its devastating consequences on poverty levels in Brazil, the Brazil Country Climate and Development Report (CCDR) stresses the urgent need to prioritize and accelerate investments in renewable energy sources. Transitioning to clean energy will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance the country’s resilience to environmental shocks. Investments in renewable energy infrastructure not only have the potential to create new jobs and stimulate economic growth but also provide affordable and sustainable energy access to marginalized communities. Renewables generated almost half of Brazil’s energy supply and 82.3% of its electricity. In comparison, global averages stand between 15% and 27%.
A Wake-Up Call For Brazil
Brazil is in a strong position to benefit from climate action all the while growing its economy. The World Bank’s recent report serves as a wake-up call for the country to take immediate action in combating the issue. Fulfilling the pledge of zero illegal deforestation by 2028 could significantly combat the rampant phenomenon, with around 90% of deforestation being illegal. Enabling land stewardship, establishing indigenous territories and restoring degraded pastures could also remove an estimated 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) annually through “negative emissions.” The same goes for strengthening climate-smart agriculture by, for example, intensifying livestock production and increasing crop productivity which could halve the sector’s emissions.
Leveraging renewable energy, especially by becoming a leading producer of green hydrogen, could accelerate the transition to renewable energy, diversify exports and attract investments. Promoting energy efficiency, transitioning to low-carbon fuels and encouraging public transit over personal vehicles represent crucial steps for reducing carbon emissions.
Additionally, investing in urban planning, nature-based solutions and resilient cities can enhance sustainability and protect against climate shocks. Implementing economy-wide interventions, such as carbon pricing mechanisms can potentially incentivize low-carbon practices. These solutions offer a comprehensive approach to tackling environmental challenges, promoting sustainable development and building a resilient future. The CCDR concludes that the additional costs of the resilient and zero net pathway proposed in Brazil would account for 0.5% of the annual GDP, without considering the domestic and global benefits from the preservation of the ecosystem.
Furthermore, these investments open the possibility of the development of a green economy, thereby attracting international investment and promoting long-term environmental sustainability.
– Hanna Bernard