Climate Change and Innovation in Brazil: Threats and Opportunities

By Gabriel Wedy, Cacia Pimentel

In recent decades, Brazil has adopted a political approach focused on maintaining economic stability and consolidating inclusive social policies. However, despite repeated attempts, little progress has been made in overcoming difficulties within the country and making Brazil more competitive in the global market. Nevertheless, there seems to be an awakening and a certain consensus among scholars of Brazilian problems that the expected inclusive economic growth cycle may be achieved if Brazil invests in enhancing the bioeconomy business environment through bioenergy and innovation.

The actual crisis is fast–tracking two major transformations at the global level: the energy transition and the information revolution, both dependent on innovation. Brazil showcases a comparative advantage for renewable energy sources in comparison to the rest of the world. Even considering the controversial major use of hydroelectricity and sugarcane biofuels, these sources are undoubtfully less harmful than fossil sources, such as coal and diesel. This could be an unprecedented opportunity. Nevertheless, Brazil has faced considerable environmental disasters in recent years, despite its consistent legal framework protecting the environment.

This paper advocates a legal pathway to disseminate knowledge and to reach sustainable growth by adopting decarbonization processes and innovation. By decarbonization processes, the authors mean the transition to a decarbonized economy by adopting innovative technological transformations that provide bioeconomy growth and lead traditional manufacturers into renewable and sustainable industries. In relation to these processes, it is essential that decision makers, especially public officials in the national environmental and innovation agencies, understand the existing legal paths, modernize the instruments used for cooperation and the generation of new products with a focus on growth and competitiveness, and enforce environmental protection law and mechanisms. Regarding innovation, the premise is that the new cooperation instruments allowed by the legal framework of innovation will strengthen relations between public and private agents.

This paper first presents the principles and main environmental and energy transition rules that comprise the current Brazilian legal framework. It then shows the contradictions that need to be overcome in the environmental system. Finally, the paper presents opportunities and proposals for change and improvement towards sustainable growth.

Read the report Climate Change and Innovation in Brazil: Threats and Opportunities in Columbia Law School's Scholarship Archive.