Brazilian government measures threaten the fight against climate change and its impacts on water.
The Northeast Region of Brazil, which includes the states of Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Maranhão, Paraíba, Piauí, Río Grande del Norte and Sergipe, particularly the emirate, will be especially affected by climate change in the next eight decades, according to projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Brazilian Panel for Climate Change (PBMC).
Estimates are of a 10% to 20% reduction in rainfall until 2040, from 25% to 35% from 2041 to 2070 and from 40% to 50% from 2070 to 2100 in the Caatinga —or white forest in the Tupi language. An exclusive biome of Brazil that covers about 10% of the country's territory—, according to the 2015 National Climate Change Adaptation Plan. In the same biome, temperatures can increase from 0.5º C to 1º until 2040, from 1.5 º to 2.5º from 2041 to 2070 and from 3.5º to 4.5º from 2071 to 2100.
In the Caatinga, states the National Plan, the scenarios point “to a substitution by a more arid vegetation. For the populations there may be a decrease in the level of losazudes, impacts on subsistence agriculture, especially rainfed agriculture, and on health, loss of productivity, greater food insecurity ”.
The projections, therefore, are of a worsening of the situation verified in the Northeast, due to climate change. In fact, the region has already suffered from this phenomenon for years, so much so that, according to the Brazilian Atlas of Natural Disasters of the Federal University of Santa Catarina, the Northeast represented 44.09% of the number of people affected by disasters caused by climatic events in Brazil between 1991 and 2012, mainly due to droughts and low water flows. Between 2012 and 2017, the Northeast suffered one of the most severe droughts in its history, which aggravated the situation of subpopulation, mainly that living in areas in the process of desertification. According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), 82.6% of the 1,794 municipalities in the Northeast were affected by drought, with an impact on water supply and productive activities. Also according to IBGE, only 15% of the northeastern municipalities presented contingency plans against droughts.
However, not only the Northeast is vulnerable to climate change in Brazil. The very extinction of the Amazon came to be foreseen in a World Bank report, in case the current rate of emissions that aggravate the greenhouse effect and, therefore, global warming continue. The document was released in November 2014, on the eve of the Twentieth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 20), held in Lima, Peru.
In this scenario of serious consequences already felt by all Brazilian regions, the government of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has implemented measures that in practice mean the dismantling of the official structure that had been set up to prevent and combat climate change. Environmental organizations and various institutions fear that such measures will have a direct effect, for example, on ongoing actions to guarantee water security throughout the country.
On the day he assumed the presidency, January 1, 2019, Bolsonaro, who is a reserve captain of the Army, issued Provisional Measure 870, which ordered several changes in the federal administration that directly affect social and environmental policies, promoting multiple setbacks, according to organizations. non-governmental.
One of the changes contained in Provisional Measure 870/2019 is the disabling of some functions of the Ministry of the Environment, with an impact on compliance with public policies on water resources and on compliance with the Sustainable Development Goal-SDG 6 (Drinking water and sanitation) , of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. MP 870 included the transfer of the Department of Water Resources, National Council of Water Resources and National Water Agency (ANA) from the Ministry of the Environment to the Ministry of Regional Development. The orientations related to the national water resources policy, resulting from this change, are not yet clear.
Worsening of droughts
Another measure implemented by Bolsonaro impacts public energy policies and compliance with SDG 7 (Affordable and clean energy). The far-right government made another negative gesture by deciding that Brazil will no longer host the Climate Conference (COP 25) at the end of 2019.
“For Brazil the political effect is very bad. First, it is a signal to our international partners that Brazil is not trustworthy. Second, that the country can move away from multilateralism or reduce its importance. Third, it also points out that the country can withdraw from the agendas that it has historically led: the Climate Convention was born in Rio de Janeiro and COP 25 would be its return home ”, Claudio Angelo, Communications Coordinator of the Climate Observatory, an alliance of dedicated organizations to promote sustainable energy and combat global warming, such as Greenpeace Brasil and Amigos de laTierra-Amazonia.
Bolsonaro announced in November 2018, before taking office, that Brazil would no longer host COP25, scheduled to take place at the end of that year. The measure was interpreted as a gesture for the US government, whose president, Donald Trump, belongs to the group of deniers of global warming.
For environmental organizations, by not hosting COP 25, the Bolsonaro government clearly indicated that it can stop incentive actions for clean and renewable energy, which was confirmed with its visit to Washington on March 19. During the stay, the rulers of Brazil and the US took notice of the climate issue and, on the contrary, agreed to hold a binational energy forum, focusing on oil and gas, precisely some of the sources of worsening global warming. Without more clean energy, the impacts of climate change expressed in the worsening of droughts in the Northeast and heavy rains in the South and Southeast will tend to continue.
The fact that Brazil will no longer host COP 25— which will take place in Chile— and Provisional Measure 870 also have an effect on the fulfillment of SDG 13 (Action against global climate change). The Bolsonaro government has practically liquidated the structure that existed in the Ministry of the Environment to coordinate policies to prevent and combat climate change.
"The signal given to the productive sector and environmental offenders is one of flexibility, facilitation and amnesty, and then it is very difficult for deforestation to decrease this year, which for now reaches 10% between August 2018 and January 2019," Angelo continues. According to the Institute of Man and the Environment of the Amazon (Imazon), in January 2019, the first month of the Bolsonaro government, 108 km² were deforested in the Legal Amazon (which includes the states of Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima , Tocantins, Mato Grosso and part of Maranhão), an increase of 54% compared to January 2018, when deforestation totaled 70 km².
Deforestation in the Amazon is one of the main Brazilian sources of the emission of gases that fuel global warming. Thus, deforestation in the Amazon has a direct impact on the climate balance of the region and the planet, contributing to the savanization of the Amazon itself and the aggravation of desertification in the Northeast, among other impacts. Amazonia has experienced several drought episodes of its mighty rivers in recent years.
“The Civil Society Working Group (GT) for the 2030 Agenda has firmly positioned itself against these first setbacks of the new government and has alerted society about the risk of backing down. In the coming months we will have a series of activities to disseminate and promote the 2030 Agenda, mobilize society and lobby the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary for the implementation of the SDGs ”, says Alessandra Nilo, general coordinator of the NGO Gestos and co-facilitator of the Civil Society Working Group for Agenda2030. The Civil Society WG is made up of several organizations that are dedicated to the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals in Brazil.
Reactions to government measures are multiplying. One of the most forceful was the publication, on March 7, of a Technical Note by the 6th Chamber of the Attorney General's Office (PGR). The Note affirms that Provisional Measure 870, signed by the president on the day of his inauguration, is unconstitutional, and causes, among other effects, the “conflict between indigenous interests and the agricultural policy of the Union”.
While there are uncertainties regarding public policies on water security and the environment in general, the actions of society itself continue to prevent and combat climate change and its impacts on water. Irrigation expansion, for example, is considered an effective strategy for the efficient use of water resources, mainly in water-scarce regions, such as the Northeast.
Between 2000 and 2015, the irrigated area of the country increased from 3 million to 5.4 million hectares. “Before, irrigation was done only by the action of official bodies, such as the National Department of Works Against Droughts (DNOCS), but now it has Private irrigation has grown a lot, with great efficiency ”, Evaristo de Miranda, head of the Brazilian Territorial Agricultural Research Company, tells Noticias Aliadas, who sees enormous potential in this area. He cites the case of irrigation in the fruit and wine pole of the São Francisco River Valley, between Bahia and Pernambuco, in the Northeast Region.
Similarly, the action developed in one of the most critical regions for water availability in Brazil has continued. It is the inland region of the state of São Paulo, located in the basins of the Piracicaba, Capivari and Jundiaí rivers (PCJ) and which, in dry periods, has a water availability of 298.79 m³ per inhabitant / year, equivalent to that of dry countries of the Middle East, 292 m³ per inhabitant / year, according to the 2015 United Nations Report for Water Development.
The PCJ Basins are very dynamic in the discussion on water resources, and this proactivity led the PCJ Basins Agency to integrate the EcoCuencas Action, carried out with the support of various international organizations and funding from the European Commission. The intention of the partners is that in the basins where EcoCuencas pilot projects operate, it will be demonstrated in a practical way that the financial mechanisms and economic redistribution are relevant for an integrated management of water resources and a greater resilience against climate change.
“It can be said that the main results of EcoCuencas are about promoting the discussion of climate change, which has been little discussed in the sector of water resources in Latin America. The understanding is clearly stated that watersheds must be well managed to be resilient. It also stands out the opportunity to promote the exchange of experiences between the various partners of the project, enriching the framework of action in the various participating instances. On the scale of the PCJ Basins, the promotion of well-founded discussions on charges for the use of water, water planning and the need for integration of information systems stands out, ”Eduardo Cuoco Léo, coordinator of the Information System of the PCJ Watershed Agency, tells NoticiasAliadas.
Another broader action, which clearly incorporates the culture of prevention, is the Global Campaign "Developing Resilient Cities", of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. This campaign recommends that municipalities progressively adopt platforms for preventive action, in the face of climatic transformations and extreme events, minimizing risks and disasters. "Before the culture was to act reactively, now what is intended with the campaign is a culture of proactivity, risk prevention, and this includes the adoption of measures to confront climate change in the city environment," Sidnei tells Allied News Fernandes, promoter of the campaign in Brazil and coordinator of Civil Defense of the Metropolitan Region of Campinas, in the interior of São Paulo. Brazil is the country with the largest number of municipalities that have already joined the campaign, more than 1,000, among the 5,500 existing municipalities in the country. One of the measures taken as a function of the campaign is the adoption of precision equipment to more quickly anticipate events such as floods and floods and, thereby, promote faster mobilization of resources and affected communities.
The challenges are gigantic, but Brazilian society continues to adopt its measures to prevent and confront climate change. The doubt has to do with the extent of the impacts of the measures of the new Brazilian government.
Source: Allied News.