Protecting forests through policy

In any discussion of Brazilian climate policy, the first topic is deforestation. Brazil has seen marked success in climate-related policies and may be a good model for other emerging economies. Roughly half the slowdown in deforestation in the late-2000s was a result of deliberate government policy, while better land productivity has led to increased agricultural output.


These graphs show the changes in emissions, emissions drivers, and policy in the Agriculture sector in Brazil


Emissions Non-CO₂ greenhouse gas emissions

Both land under cultivation and non-CO₂ emissions increased.


    Emissions Drivers Agricultural production intensity

    Although the intensity of food production per hectare increased, mechanization did not increase.


      Policy Subsidies to agricultural producers

      Brazil made increasing the productivity of agricultural land a priority to reduce expansion into new land and deforestation. Subsidies to producers, in part to modernize their operations, steadily increased over time.

        • The 1980s saw a major economic crisis, political disruptions, then political stabilization.

          • Policy Barriers

            • Embrapa continues research efforts (initiated in 1970s) to advance technological development for agriculture.
          • Underlying changes

            • Democratization
            • Persistence (since 1970s) of oil shocks consequences, prompting development of biofuels
            • Hyperinflation
            • Failed economic reforms
        • In the 1990s, the economy stabilized and Brazil liberalized trade. The agricultural sector made advances in professional, technological, and operational modernization.

          • Policy Barriers

            • Mercosur common trade policy established, 1991.
            • Development of family production programs in mid-1990s.
              National Program for Strengthening Family Farming (PRONAF)
            • The Land Reform political attention implementation waned due to increased mechanization in agriculture.
          • Underlying changes

            • Savings freeze in 1991 leading to major recession
            • Restructuring of economy
              Broad trade liberalization reforms, hyperinflation ended in mid-1990s, significant increase in Brazilian tax burden.
            • Mexican, Asian, and Russian financial crises led to Brazilian financial crisis in late 1990s
            • Professionalization, mechanization, and decreasing labor-intensity of agriculture
        • Rising prices and yields in the 2000s accompanied increasing rural credit.

          • Policy Barriers

            • Significant increase in planned rural credit under subsidized rates
            • Conditional rural credit policies (National Monetary Council Resolution 3,545), 2008
              Credit contingent on compliance with environmental
            • Requirements and legitimacy of land claims
          • Underlying changes

            • Early 2000s surge in exports due to growth in China and significant appreciation of Real
            • 2007-2008 global food price crisis
            • Expansion of agricultural frontier
            • Middle-class significantly expanded
            • Increase in tax burden until 2003
            • Global recession 2008-2009