Rio de Janeiro state in Brazil has more to offer than the World Cup

Clare Saxon Ghauri
1 July 2014

LONDON: While Brazil faces criticism for the social and economic impacts of hosting the World Cup, the State of Rio de Janeiro is continuing to make headway on developing its low carbon economy.

As all eyes are on Brazil for the World Cup, the country’s sustainability efforts have inevitably come under scrutiny. But while the national government has its own goals to score, low carbon leadership at the state level is marching ahead.

The State of Rio de Janeiro, a member of The Climate Group, recently shared strong progress on its low carbon mission, Bolsa Verde do Rio de Janeiro (BVRio – Rio de Janeiro’s Environmental Exchange).

BVRio was launched in 2011 with the support of Rio state government and municipality, to develop market mechanisms that align with Brazil’s environmental laws in order to grow the region’s low carbon economy.

In addition to decarbonizing Brazil’s fundamental land-use sector through state collaboration on forestry law, BVRio has also focused on the urban environment, including prioritizing the National Solid Waste Legislation and supporting it with new recycling credits.

BVRio is also working to accelerate greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions through a cap-and-trade system, specifically designed for industries operating in Rio state, which would serve as a pilot for a planned federal GHG scheme to be developed later on.

An environmental assets exchange, BVTrade Platform has also been launched as part of VBRio. Through BVRio’s trading platform, property-owners in conservation areas can offer rural producers their land, so producers can comply with the Brazilian Forest Code which demands a minimum 20% of their land must contain native vegetation.

Pedro Moura Costa, Executive Chairman of BVRio explains the project’s goals: "BVRio’s mission to facilitate compliance with environmental laws is essential to ensure that all the policy innovations created in the country do not get lost due to implementation challenges. Brazil has a lot more to offer in this space than hosting the [World] Cup - our mission is to help the country express leadership in the environmental leadership as well.”

As a state Rio de Janeiro has long shown its low carbon leadership, with its 2030 targets including cutting greenhouse gas emissions to below 2005 levels and increasing its share of low carbon energy by 40% compared to 2010.

But for Brazil itself, recent low carbon progress has been clouded by the World Cup’s carbon footprint. While the country has cut deforestation by 70% over the last decade preventing 3.2 billion tons of CO2 emissions from being released, international media is reporting the World Cup will add a total of 2.72 million tons of CO2 back into the atmosphere by the time the winner is announced.

Brazil did launch carbon offsetting projects to reduce FIFA’s overall footprint that includes offsetting travel, stadium and TV production emissions, but overall emissions totals are slippery figures to calculate, due to external elements such as thousands of spectators flying to matches.

And while the solar panels that were built on some of its stadiums have been applauded by many, it is not guaranteed locals will find use for the low carbon technology after the tournament; a short-sighted move which reflects the estimated US$11.3 billion major football event’s alleged wider negative impacts on the economy and Brazilian citizens.

However, in the State of Rio de Janeiro, all eyes will certainly will be on the world-famous Estadio do Maracana for the tournament's final match on July 13. Powered partially by the PV modules installed on the roof, however the panels are used afterwards, on that day Rio will be showcasing solar technology - and the state’s commitment to it - to the whole world.

Libby Ferguson, States and Regions Director, The Climate Group, says: “Across The Climate Group’s States & Regions members, governments are not only committing to ambitious climate targets, they are ensuring action is taken to reduce local emissions now and piloting new policies that can be scaled up to a national level. The work of BVRio further demonstrates that sub-national governments not only play a crucial role in supporting local low carbon development and prosperity, but can provide a model for national low carbon growth.”

stadium rio de janeiro solar

Rio de Janeiro's Estadio do Maracana, photo by Arthur Boppré

Read more about BVRio

By Clare Saxon


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