Brazil Exemplifies Global Move toward Clean Energy

Wrapping up a six-day tour of the Amazon Rain Forest and semi-arid areas of Northeast Brazil before Christmas, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz called for stronger global action on protecting the environment and developing energy alternatives for economic growth and fighting poverty.

“There is an urgent need to do more, both on the global and local levels, to preserve a healthy Brazil for future generations of Brazilians. For many reasons, this is important not just to Brazilians but to all of us,” Wolfowitz said at a Special Session of the Sao Paulo Forum on Climate Change. He emphasized how global warming and the drought in the Amazon have devastating effects on those who are most vulnerable — the poor. “This past year alone, we have seen a major drought in the Amazon destroy fish and crops-the lifeline for indigenous communities. When poorly managed development damages the environment, it is often the poor who suffer the most. They are often poor because they already live in fragile environments which make them particularly vulnerable,” said World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz. Noting that as developing countries grow, their demand for energy will also grow, countries like China, India, Mexico and Brazil, said Wolfowitz, are leaving behind a trail of environmental footprints on their path. Brazil as a global leader on clean energy has much to share with the world in this area. Today, 42 percent of Brazil’s energy use comes from renewable sources, compared with 6 percent for OECD countries. Around 90 percent of Brazil’s electricity comes from hydropower. Brazil is also the world’s largest producer and consumer of fuel ethanol from sugarcane as a transportation fuel, an achievement possible because it is the world’s most efficient producer of sugarcane, which accounts for about 60 percent of the cost of ethanol production. The ethanol program in Brazil is saving around 180,000 barrels per day of gasoline, valued at about US$4 billion per year. This means that about 24 million tons less CO2 are added to the atmosphere each year. According to Wolfowitz, there is a need for broad, consistent environmental policies that balance the importance of encouraging development and protecting natural resources-to reap the double dividends that may be possible. He also noted that the World Bank could help in three ways: by stimulating knowledge sharing and policy advice at the local and global levels; by supporting partnerships on global public goods; and by providing financial resources for development. In closing, he said that for the World Bank, Brazil is more than a borrower: it is becoming a major global player as a donor, exporter of knowledge, and leader on the environment.

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