Disentangling Green Industry from Brown Consequences
Brazil’s energy matrix is among the most renewable in the world: 46% stems from hydroelectric dams, sugar cane-based ethanol, and wood and vegetable carbon. However, by some estimates Brazil is also the fourth-highest greenhouse gas emitter – a position earned by deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, which when combined with conversion to pasture or agriculture, releases 80% of Brazil’s annual GHG emissions. Renewable energy, meanwhile, is not as green as it first appears – sugar cane requires extensive tracts of land on which to grow; biodiesel producers employ both bovine fat and soybeans, increasing demand from industries linked to deforestation; and hydroelectric dams require local deforestation, and produce downstream ecological consequences. Thus, renewables may contribute to deforestation-related GHG emissions, if environmental laws are not enforced. By discussing the trajectories of Amazon deforestation, renewable energy, and environmental politics in Brazil, this chapter illustrates that “green” industry may have “brown” consequences.
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