The Green Economy in the G-20, Post-Mexico: Implications for Brazil

Image: Flickr, PROAdrien Sifre
Image: Flickr, PROAdrien Sifre

The preparations for the 2012 G-20 Leaders’ Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, coincided with negotiations around the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro (Rio+20), co-ordinated by Brazil.

This coincidence led to a conflict between different conceptual views: the green growth agenda being promoted by Mexico versus the maintenance of the sustainable development concept advocated by Brazil. The compromise resolution led to the adoption of the motto ‘Promoting long-term prosperity through inclusive growth’ at the 2012 G-20 summit.

In the period preceding Rio+20, the notions of a green economy and green growth were intensively debated in Brazil. In general, these ideas were questioned, and perceived as normative devices generated by developed countries and presented to developing economies as having universal validity. At the level of domestic public policies, the broader trade-off, as understood in Brazil, involves, on the one hand, economic and social goals, and, on the other, environmental and climatic objectives.

At the beginning of the 21st century, Brazil seemed well positioned to face the challenge of mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. With limited domestic availability of fossil energy sources, the country was able to explore its huge hydroelectric potential and developed policies to diversify energy sources – with the emphasis on production technologies and the use of ethanol as a transportation fuel. The Brazilian energy matrix used to be presented as an example of a ‘clean matrix’, and one main feature of the energy sector was the marginal share of consumption of fossil fuels. This advantage has been eroded in recent years by the discovery of huge oilfields at the pre-salt level, and the priorities of domestic industrial and energy policies.

The paper assess the impact of the green growth agenda on Brazil’s domestic policies and its participation in the G-20, and its co-ordination with the other BRICS (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) members.

12 Nov 2013