Brazil Defends Biofuels

Being the world’s largest producer and exporter of ethanol it is natural for the Brazilian government and its partners to push biofuels as the only real alternative for a world trying wean itself away from fossil fuels that contribute to global warming.

Brazilian authorities were ready with their arguments at the United Nations climate change summit. Over the past 30 years, since the country embarked on its ethanol program, an estimated 800 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions have been avoided.

Brazilian delegates were at pains to show that not only is biofuel production the best way to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but can also combat poverty as exemplified by the country’s scheme to promote micro-distilleries to provide additional income for rural families.


Biofuels have, however, come under serious attack in recent years for eating into farmlands meant for food production. As a result, the European Union backed out, last year, from a commitment to introduce a 10 percent mandatory quota of biofuels in all transportation by 2020.

In Brazil itself environmentalists have pointed to biofuel production as one of the key reasons for the steady deforestation of the Amazon basin.

Countering such criticism Jose Migues from the Brazilian ministry of science and technology said: "We were told that biofuels lead to deforestation in the Amazon, but the ethanol production areas are 3,000 km away from the Amazon."

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Photo credit: Vanessa Beuschel Bourlier