Home > Themes > Emerging powers > Amazonian policy and politics, 2003-13: deforestation, hydropower and biofuels

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Eduardo Viola

Eduardo Viola  is a professor at the Institute of International Relations and coordinator of the Climate Change and International Relations Research Programme at the University of Brasilia. He is also a senior researcher at the Brazilian Council for Scientific and Technological Development.
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Larissa Basso

Larissa Basso  is a PhD candidate at the Institute of International Relations and member of the Climate Change and International Relations Research Programme at the University of Brasilia.
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Amazonian policy and politics, 2003-13: deforestation, hydropower and biofuels

Eduardo Viola, Larissa Basso , 22 April 2014

In the period 2003-13 Brazil experienced important economic and political developments: it became a much more relevant international player; its economy entered the world’s top ten; and society became more politically active and expressed its complaints more aggressively. Amazonian policy and the politics of the period developed in this context, and three issues played a central role. Firstly, a cutback in deforestation led to a decrease in Brazil’s carbon emissions by around one-third, which is a unique situation in the world. Secondly, despite the region’s hydropower potential, projects developed slowly due to new environmental requirements and societal opposition. Thirdly, the production of biofuels was greatly encouraged by the introduction of flexible-fuel vehicles technology, but lost momentum after the discovery of offshore oil reserves; and there was a heated debate about the relationship between the expansion of sugar-cane plantations and deforestation after the decline in deforestation demonstrated that such plantations were not its main cause. Analysis indicates that there were three trends in Amazonian environmental policy and politics during the decade: continuity of former policies (2003-05), an upward trend towards sustainability (2005-10) and a downward trend (2010-13). The results of the 2014 elections are key to predicting future developments.

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