Brazil shows large C02 emissions cut before Cancun

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Tuesday, 26 October 2010 06:22 GMT

* Brazil has already met its 2020 emissions target

* Wants to pressure others before Cancun summit

* Further C02 cuts tougher, depend heavily on farming

By Raymond Colitt

BRASILIA, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Brazil has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 34 percent over the past five years and virtually met its 2020 target, the government said on Tuesday, a month before global climate talks begin in Mexico.

Amid fading hopes for a pact at the United Nations climate summit in Mexico&${esc.hash}39;s resort city of Cancun, Brazil wants to showcase its efforts and pressure others to do more.

Latin America&${esc.hash}39;s largest country has taken a more active role in global climate talks in recent years as its diplomatic clout grew in line with the importance of its booming economy.

"We are going to Cancun with our heads high," President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said during a ceremony at which he launched a climate fund financed with oil revenues.

"We are one of the few countries that has concrete results to show ... in this area," Lula said.

Brazil reduced its greenhouse gas emissions to 1.78 gigatons (Gt) of C02 equivalent gases in 2009, a 33.6 percent reduction from 2004.

At the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen last year Brazil had pledged to reduce its emissions to 1.7 Gt by 2020.

Latin America&${esc.hash}39;s largest economy was long considered one of the world&${esc.hash}39;s top greenhouse gas emitters but is now likely to have fallen several notches in the international ranking.

The bulk of the emissions fall came from a substantial reduction in the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, which emits carbon as trees decompose or burn.

The government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has stepped up policing in the world&${esc.hash}39;s largest rainforest in recent years, reducing deforestation to around 7,000 sq km (2,700 sq miles) in the 2008/09 period from a peak of 27,379 sq km in 2003/04.

Authorities have fined illegal cattle ranchers and loggers, confiscated their products, and cut off bank loans to them. Beef and soy industries have also declared voluntary bans on products from illegally deforested areas.

Next month the government is expected to announce a further fall in Amazon deforestation by around 29 percent in the 2009/10 period.

NEW CHALLENGES

But with its economy booming at more than 7 percent a year Brazil will face new challenges in reducing or even just capping emissions in coming years.

"We&${esc.hash}39;ll reach a point where it will become difficult to rely on deforestation for further carbon reductions," said Gilberto Camara, director-general of Brazil&${esc.hash}39;s National Institute for Space Research, which measures deforestation.

Indeed authorities said the government now needed to step up its fight against new sources of emissions.

"We advanced a lot in recent years due to the reduction of Amazon deforestation. But we need to reduce deforestation elsewhere and control greenhouse gas emissions in energy, agriculture, and industry," said Science and Technology Minister Sergio Rezende.

With 75 percent of Brazil&${esc.hash}39;s electricity coming from hydropower, agriculture was more of a problem in Brazil than industry, said INPE&${esc.hash}39;s Camara. Methane emitted through belching and flatulence of roughly 200 million head of cattle was a huge challenge, he said.

Methane causes a larger greenhouse effect than C02 does. (Editing by Jerry Norton)

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