Project news & events
How do Brazilian stakeholders perceive the country's net-zero transition and potential bottlenecks?
The PARIS REINFORCE project hosted a virtual workshop, on May 2nd, 2022, to discuss and refine the project’s modelling results on low-carbon pathways for Brazil with stakeholders from the public and private sector as well as academia. The workshop aimed to receive feedback for the Brazilian whole-energy system low-carbon pathways modelling that the project consortium had already undertaken, as well as identify bottlenecks hampering the decarbonisation pathways and to co-create guardrails for a transformative policy mix that could overcome those bottlenecks, with a particular focus on the transport sector.
The workshop began with a brief introduction on the overall aims and objectives of the PARIS REONFORCE project, from project coordinator Dr. Alexandros Nikas (National Technical University of Athens). Following this, Dr. Sara Giarola (Imperial College London) gave an overview on the modelled pathways for Brazil. A first aspect from stakeholder feedback was the need to take into account land use as a key element in Brazil’s climate impact, through specifying what assumed contribution land-use sectors would make to net emissions in the coming decades. In addition, Brazilian stakeholders pointed to the available national models that should be taken into account for further analysis, including their treatment of land use and of sustainable biofuels. Further comments were made on the opportunities to integrate renewables into the electricity grid, using for example grid storage technologies. Finally, stakeholders highlighted that fast-growing sectors such as aviation and shipping should not be neglected in a path towards net-zero, despite the absence of ambitious climate policies. They also perceived that the absence of a regulatory framework for CCS may hinder the deployment of the technology.
Dr Jakob Wachsmuth (Fraunhofer ISI) complemented the modeling overview with a zoom-in on the sectoral analysis, including on CCS, bioenergy and electrification of transport and he concluded with a discussion on tentatively identified and yet to be elaborated bottlenecks to decarbonisation.
In the interactive second part of the workshop, organised by Dr. Philine Warnke (Fraunhofer ISI), participants assessed the importance of identified bottlenecks through online polling, specified how they hamper the decarbonisation of the transport sector and discussed how they can be effectively addressed by a future policy mix.
A number of important bottlenecks to decabonisation were highlighted such as lack of unified definitions of advanced biofuels and lack of railway infrastructure expansion. Highest importance was assigned to barriers due to financing of transport electrification, namely: High price and scarcity of batteries, difficulty of access to credit and the fear of rising cost of mobility. Especially sensitive are Diesel price fluctuations correlated also with biodiesel mandates, and the lack of an open electricity market where consumers may decide which supplier to buy the electricity from. In addition, the resistance of powerful actors in incumbent industries such as oil and gas and hydropower was singled out as a key factor.
In the discussion of these bottlenecks it was emphasised that inequality and poverty and subsequent lack of funds on individual and community levels need to be taken into account for any climate policy, especially with currently rising interest rates and inflation. It was stressed that the focus of e-mobility efforts in Brazil needs to be on collective use (public transport, company car fleets) rather than pushing for increasing car ownership. Promoting collective e-mobility would promote infrastructure development; this may allow an uptake of electric cars in the private sector, although this is perceived optimistic and limited to a fraction of the wealthiest parts of the population. In general a complex mix of fuels, including biomethane, sustainable biofuels, hydrogen, and bio-electricity, will be part of the net-zero transition, as stakeholders pointed out. While the currently high prices for batteries contribute to the financing issues it was stressed that this is due to a global supply chain shortage issue rather than specifically Brazilian problem.
A second set of bottlenecks is associated with resistance of powerful actors and influence of lobbies. It was pointed out that legislation is not always driven by the best available science but prone to influence from various lobby groups. Consequently, there is too little momentum to overcome status-quo and delay of important legislation on decarbonisation. This situation is reinforced by the fact that climate policies do not play a major role in Brazilian election campaigns compared to other countries. Given the lack of interest from consumers also car companies that advocate e-mobility globally, there has been a focus on petrol-based SUV sales in Brazil. In general, there was a feeling that especially the wealthy part of the population does not care too much about sustainable lifestyle choices even if they agree with abstract sustainability targets.
As key elements of a possible policy mix to support the transformation the following elements were discussed: Bespoke awareness-raising to increase public empathy towards climate change, long-term planning, target-oriented coordination of efforts between industry, civil society and government in dedicated spaces for dialogue, strict and science-based regulation and finally creation of open markets for renewables.
It was emphasised however that none of these measures on its own is a silver bullet but rather the complex interplay of developments needs to be focused on.
The workshop's presentation can be found here: