Brazil’s new Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), informed by the Federal Government in September 2023, proposes a 48% reduction in the country’s Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emissions by 2025 and a 53% reduction by 2030 compared to 2005, the base year. In this scenario, the emissions limit in 2025 will be 1.32 GtCO2eq, and in 2030, 1.20 GtCO2eq.
Compliance with the new Brazilian NDC must be led by an implementation plan designed by the Federal Government, which includes the expected contributions of each economic sector to mitigating national GHG emissions. In the case of agriculture and livestock, the guidelines and calculations for expected emissions reduction must consider the sector’s role regarding energy transition and ensuring global food security, as well as the prospects for reducing GHG emissions based on sustainable practices already used by Brazilian rural producers.
Regarding energy transition, agribusiness is responsible for 30.8% of the Brazilian energy supply, according to 2022 data from the Energy Research Company (EPE). This feature contributes to Brazil’s energy mix being one of the cleanest in the world, avoiding GHG emissions from burning fossil fuels and other non-clean energy sources. Regarding food security, Brazil is the world’s third largest food supplier, responsible for 6.5% of global agricultural exports, and the largest world supplier of soy, beef, and coffee.
Regarding sustainability, the Brazilian agriculture and livestock sector has a broad portfolio of practices that promote Low Carbon Agriculture in the country. Among the main ones, one can mention the Rehabilitation of Degraded Pastures, Direct Seeding Systems, Integrated Crop-Livestock-Forest Systems, Planted Forests, Biological Inputs, Irrigation Systems, and Animal Waste Management. All of these practices are included in the Plan for Adaptation and Low Carbon Emission in Agriculture (ABC+ Plan), a strategic agenda of the Brazilian Government which has the goal to continue the ABC Plan executed from 2010 to 2020 and responsible for reducing 193.7 million tons of CO2 equivalent through the implementation of sustainable agricultural practices.
In its five-times more ambitious version, which uses Sustainable Production Systems, Practices, Products, and Processes in over 72.68 million hectares, the ABC+ Plan (which will be implemented from 2020 to 2030) aims to reduce 1,076.14 million tons of CO2eq through the eight low-carbon agricultural practices mentioned above, as well as expanding irrigated areas, using biological inputs and intensive beef finishing. If accomplished, the targets will increase sustainable productivity in Brazilian agriculture, and the implementation of the Plan will foster the dissemination of practices that contribute to a negative balance of net emissions from the agro sector.
A recent study developed by EMBRAPA, for instance, found that integrated production systems in the Amazon have a net negative equivalent carbon emissions balance after four years, i.e. they sequester more carbon than they emit.
In addition, this practice can also be used as a strategy for the Rehabilitation of Degraded Pastures in the country, which is also a way for reducing emissions from agriculture, contributing to achieving the goals of the ABC+ Plan and the Brazilian NDC.
In this respect, the ABC+ Plan’s implementation practices and strategies can function as benchmarks for agriculture and livestock contributions to meeting the Brazilian NDC. It should also be noted that ABC+ technologies contribute greatly to mitigating methane (CH4) emissions per se, increasing the sustainability of Brazilian livestock farming by reducing slaughter time.
Thus, the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA) works to make the ABC+ Plan the basis for GHG mitigation actions in the agro sector, contributing to compliance with the Brazilian NDC and to the effort to accomplish the target proposed in the Global Methane Pledge (GMP). Strategies to reduce global emissions must be based on scientific evidence and conducted by different funding and cooperation sources to promote sustainable agriculture and help ensure global food security.
Amanda Roza is Technical Sustainability and Market Intelligence Advisor at Brazil’s National Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock