20 August, 2009

Climate Agenda as an Agenda for Development in Brazil: A Policy Oriented Approach

A paper to be presented to the Panel: “It’s Not Easy Going Green”of the Divisions on Science, Technology and Environmental Politics, and Comparative Politics of Developing Countries at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Political Association, Toronto, September 3-6, 2009.

Sergio Abranches


New models of development will be required to contemplate, simultaneously, avenues for low and carbon-free production and consumption; as well as adaptation to the emerging effects of climate change. The crucial transitional choices regarding how much further climate change we are willing to contract will be made in the 2009-2030 period.

A low-carbon society should not necessarily pose absolute, long-run limits to human development and general welfare.

In Brazil, moving in a very few decades towards a low-carbon society would represent a qualitative breakthrough that could reduce the costs of transition from a high-carbon emerging economy to a low-carbon developed one. The agenda for change in this direction is in effect a development agenda, rather than a matter of limits to growth. It will require new patterns of land, natural capital, and energy use. It would entail more, rather than less, global integration and networking while, at the same time, relying on regionally specific productive, developmental and adaptive capabilities. The dynamic matrix of this new

development paradigm will necessarily be knowledge-based, but framed by the historic, structural and physical specific properties of local societies.

In Brazil, that would call for a long-run shift from mechanical and metallurgical industries to a new low-carbon biotechnological industry, capable of producing low-carbon feedstock, and second and third generation biopharmaceuticals, biofuels, and biopolymers. The central and special focus of this strategy ought to be the Amazon. No low-carbon future could be envisaged to Brazil unless she can stop deforestation in a very few years. To sustain a zero-deforestation strategy Brazil has to occupy the Amazon with unobtrusive science and technology, replacing soybean plantations and pastures.

If interested you can download it here (under SSRN rules)

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