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Bioenergy > Regions > Latin America and the Caribbean > Brazil

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Brazil is the world's second largest producer and largest exporter of ethanol. Sugar cane is the main feedstock for ethanol production. The use of ethanol fuel reached a 50% market share of the gasoline-powered fleet early in 2008[1][2] thanks to the mandatory blend of 20 to 25 percent anhydrous ethanol in all gasoline sold in the country since 1993,[3] and a fleet of more than six million flexible-fuel light vehicles that run on any blend of E25 gasoline and E100 hydrous ethanol.[4] However, Brazil uses more diesel than gasoline and biodiesel production is still small, although growing rapidly. Other forms of bioenergy remain a relatively small proportion of Brazil's energy mix, although many ethanol plants are powered by burning sugar cane bagasse to generate electricity.[5]







International net loss and net gain in 'forest' by country for the period 1990-2005 (modified from the World Resources Institute)



International cooperation


  • National Program of Biodiesel Production and Use.
    • Social Fuel Stamp - This program attempts to deal with the question of social sustainability of biofuels by providing tax incentives for biodiesel producers to purchase feedstocks from small family farms in poorer regions of the country.
      • To receive the stamp producers must agree to:
        • "To purchase minimum percentages of raw materials from family farmers, 10% from regions North and Mid-West; 30% from the South and Southeast and 50% from the Northeast and the Semi-Arid Region; and
        • "To enter into contracts with family farmers establishing deadlines and conditions of delivery of the raw material and the respective prices, and to provide them with technical assistance."[6]


Video from the Institute for Sustainable Futures.


  • 7 states fight California rule over ethanol carbon scores 19 March 2012 by Adam Belz for USA TODAY: "A California rule assigning higher carbon scores to fuel produced outside the state has drawn the ire of the ethanol industry and the Midwestern states that produce most of the ethanol in the U.S."
    • "At least seven states — Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota— are opposing California's effort to enforce the mandate, which critics say threatens the renewable fuels business in the nation's grain belt."
    • "In December, a federal judge blocked California's Air Resources Board from enforcing the regulation, which encourages refiners to blend gasoline with ethanol produced in Brazil or California. The California rule considers Midwestern ethanol to have a larger carbon footprint. The judge said the rule unconstitutionally interferes with interstate commerce. California officials are appealing the decision."
    • "The rule hinges on the concept of indirect land use change, Thorne said. The idea is that if farmers in the U.S. sell their grain for ethanol, farmers in other parts of the world must grow more corn for the food supply, pumping more carbon into the atmosphere, he said."
    • "Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, who said the regulation threatens $1.3 billion in annual ethanol sales from his state alone, called the indirect land use change a 'highly controversial and undeveloped theory,' in a brief signed by attorneys general from five other states."[1]


  • Brazil, short of biofuel, can't open spigot to US, 30 December 2011 by Reuters: "For three decades, the U.S. government sought to protect American corn farmers and ethanol makers from a feared flood of Brazilian imports by imposing a tariff that had the South American country crying foul."
    • "With Brazil's ethanol industry struggling to meet booming local demand, it's U.S. producers instead who are shipping millions of gallons to the south."
    • "Three factors have converged to push Brazil's ethanol distilleries to the limit. Sugarcane production fell this year for the first time in a decade, reducing supplies; global demand for sugar has remained strong; and domestic motor-fuel demand has surged, straining local gasoline and ethanol supply."
    • "That should come as a relief to U.S. farmers who have fought to protect their subsidized corn ethanol market from producers in Brazil, whose tropical sun and cheap land allow abundant production of sugarcane, a much more efficient biofuel feedstock than corn."
    • "Cellulosic ethanol and biomass biodiesel made in the United States are also considered advanced biofuels, but supplies of these fuels have been too low to fill demand. The resulting price increase allowed certified Brazilian ethanol to compete despite the tariff."[3]
  • Sugarcane ethanol in Brazil a substantial pollution source, 27 December 2011 by Western Farm Press: "University of Iowa researchers and their colleagues have shown that ethanol fuel producers in Brazil — the world's top producer of ethanol from sugarcane as an alternative to petroleum-based fuel — generate up to seven times more air pollutants than previously thought."
    • "The study, titled 'Increased estimates of air-pollution emissions from Brazilian sugarcane ethanol,' is featured in the Nature Highlights section and published in the Dec. 11 advance online publication of the journal Nature Climate Change."
    • "The research team used agricultural survey data from Brazil to calculate emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases from the entire production, distribution, and lifecycle of sugarcane ethanol from 2000 to 2008."
    • "The estimated pollutants were 1.5 to 7.3 times higher than those from satellite-based methods, according to lead author Elliott Campbell of the University of California, Merced."[4]
  • Biofuel Expansion Picks Up Pace, 8 November 2011 by "The first transatlantic flight powered by biofuel, a Gulfstream G450 corporate jet that travelled from New Jersey to Paris in June of this year, used a 50-50 blend of biofuel and petroleum-based jet fuel."
    • "The flight was estimated to have saved approximately 5.5 tons of net carbon dioxide emissions compared to the same flight powered by fossil fuel, and was hailed as a promising step toward helping the aviation industry reduce its carbon footprint."
    • "Global biofuel production is also taking flight, climbing by 17 percent in 2010 to reach an all-time high of 105 billion liters, according to researchers at the Worldwatch Institute’s Climate and Energy Program."
    • "Breaking down Worldwatch Institute figures reveals that the world produced some 86 billion litres of ethanol in 2010, 18 percent more than in 2009 while global biodiesel production rose to 19 billion litres in 2010, a 12 percent increase from 2009."
    • "Sugarcane-derived ethanol supplies 41.5 percent of the energy (48 percent of the volume) for light-duty transportation fuels in Brazil."
    • "The report further stated that the EU remained the centre of biodiesel production, accounting for 53% of global output in 2010. Growth slowed there dramatically, however, falling from 19 percent in 2009 to just two percent in 2010."[6]
  • Brazil Lacks Cane to Boost Fuel Exports, Senator Says, 7 November 2011 by BusinessWeek: "Brazilian sugar cane companies, which are preparing to boost ethanol exports to the U.S., don’t produce enough of the renewable fuel to do so, a lawmaker said."
    • "U.S. oil companies, which must comply with government mandates to blend environmentally friendly biofuels, are expected to expand their use of sugar-cane ethanol next year, and more than 100 Brazilian mills are preparing to deliver it."
    • "Under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard, U.S. oil companies must blend into standard fuel 2 billion gallons (7.58 billion liters) of 'advanced biofuels' next year, Alejandro Zamorano Cadavid, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in New York, said in a telephone interview."
    • "Advanced biofuels must emit at least 50 percent less carbon dioxide than the petroleum-based products they replace, through their entire life cycle, including growing the crops, processing it into fuel and transporting it to the gas pump. Brazilian sugar-cane ethanol meets that standard, while U.S. corn-based ethanol does not, he said."
    • "About 107 Brazilian ethanol mills had registered with the EPA at the beginning of October to export fuel to the U.S., up from 55 in February, the Sao Paulo-based cane industry association Uniao da Industria de Cana-de-Acucar said Oct. 19."[7]
  • Senegal president regrets deaths in biofuels clash, 28 October 2011 by AFP: "Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said on Friday he 'deeply regrets' two deaths after clashes broke out over a disputed biofuels project in northern Senegal, and wants an explanation."
    • "Two people were killed and 22 injured in the village of Fanaye, where people attacked each other with sticks and machetes in a dispute over the project which will see 20,000 hectares given to an Italian investor to cultivate sweet potatoes for the production of biofuels."
    • "A local organisation defending land rights in the village said the project would lead to 'displacement of villages, destruction of cattle and desecration of cemeteries and mosques.'"
    • "Senegal has in recent years pushed the idea of using its land for biofuel production, with the backing of Brazil and Wade's fervent support."[8]
  • Monsanto Sorghum Seeds to Yield Brazil Ethanol During Cane Break, 14 October 2011 by Bloomberg Businessweek: "Monsanto Co., the world’s largest seed company, will sell enough sweet sorghum for 20,000 hectares (49,400 acres) of plantations in Brazil this year as sugar cane mills struggle to meet demand for ethanol and are seeking an alternative source of the renewable fuel."
    • "Sweet sorghum, an 8-foot (2.4-meter) plant that resembles sugar cane and may yield 80 percent as much fuel, may become an alternative feedstock for Brazilian mills after a poor cane harvest forced some plants to close this month, more than a month early, for the annual inter-harvest break during the rainy season."
    • "Brazil, the world’s largest producer and exporter of sugar, will grow 588.9 million tons of sugar cane this year, down from last year’s 623.9 million tons, the country’s crop-forecasting agency Conab said Sept. 5."[9]
  • Our sugarcane is greener than your corn: Brazil takes on US biofuel industry, 4 October 2011 by Ecologist: "Despite a poor harvest last year, Brazil’s ethanol industry is gearing up for expansion with a series of consolidations involving big companies such as Royal Dutch Shell and Petrobras showing it means business."
    • "An Institute for European Enviroment Policy study last year claimed that biofuels could create an extra 56 million tonnes of CO2 per year due mostly to deforestation worldwide."
    • "Now the industry is keen to show the rest of the world it is cleaning up its act. Producers and the Brazilian government point to more stringent regulation and claim greater mechanisation will in fact eradicate the need for harmful burning."
    • "They are also keen to emphasise that the sugarcane ethanol produced in Brazil is a much greener alternative to corn-derived ethanol from the United States or further deforestation of Europe where land is relatively scarce."
    • "A sustainability certification, Bon Sucro Standard, has been set up, with a Raizen mill in Maracai the first to be granted sustainability."
    • "The problem is chiefly one of regulating Brazil’s vast terrain, especially when it comes to the complex issue of deforestation caused by sugarcane planting."[10]
  • Sustainable Palm Oil Milestone Reached Ahead of Major WWF Evaluation, 1 September 2011 by Food Ingredients First: "The world’s largest sustainable palm oil body reached a major milestone last week in its on-going efforts to halt deforestation and bring sustainable palm oil to market – the millionth hectare of plantations has just been certified, an area roughly equivalent in size to the nation of Jamaica."
    • "The result comes as WWF prepares its second installment of the WWF Palm Oil Buyers' Scorecard, which tracks the progress of major brands on their commitments and actions on buying and using sustainable palm."
    • "Plantations owned by Brazil-based Agropalma, a leading producer of palm oil in South America, recently achieved certification against the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standard, pushing the area of certified palm oil plantations past the 1 million hectare mark."
    • "WWF worked with a group of NGOs and the palm oil industry to set up the RSPO in 2003. Certified sustainable palm oil has been available since November 2008, and provides assurance that valuable tropical forests have not been cleared and that environmental and social safeguards have been met during the production of the palm oil."[11]
  • Sugar Cane-to-Jet Fuel Pathway Analyzed for Sustainability, 8 August 2011 by Environment News Service: "Two publicly traded aircraft manufacturers and the Inter-American Development Bank will jointly fund a sustainability analysis of renewable jet fuel sourced from Brazilian sugar cane."
    • "Shouldering the funding with the bank are The Boeing Company and Embraer S.A., the world's largest manufacturer of commercial jets up to 120 seats."
    • "For the first time, the study will evaluate environmental and market conditions associated with the use of renewable jet fuel produced by Amyris Brasil S.A., a majority-owned Brazilian company, a subsidiary of California-based Amyris."
    • "The global conservation organization World Wildlife Fund will serve as an independent reviewer and advisor for the analysis."
    • "Scheduled for completion in early 2012, the study will include a complete life cycle analysis of the emissions associated with Amyris's renewable jet fuel, including indirect land use change and effects."[12]
  • U.S. Ethanol Industry to Keep Subsidies Until End of 2011, 1 August 2011 by Bloomberg: "U.S. ethanol subsidies aren’t affected by a congressional agreement to lift the country’s debt limit that may be voted on by both chambers today, according to industry groups."
    • "The 45-cent tax credit for each gallon of the biofuel blended into gasoline and the 54-cent tariff on Brazilian imports, due to expire Dec. 31, will stay in place for now, according to the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy, Washington-based industry trade groups."
    • "Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, forged a July 7 deal with Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, and John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, to eliminate the government supports and to include it as part of the deficit- reduction package. The agreement proposed to reduce federal deficit by $1.33 billion and to dedicate $668 million to biofuels and new technologies."
    • "The U.S. is required to use 12.6 billion gallons of ethanol this year and 15 billion gallons by 2015 under an energy law signed in 2007, known as the Renewable Fuels Standard."[13]
  • Biofuels Mandates Around the World, 21 July 2011 by Biofuels Digest: "In Florida, the Digest today releases its annual review of biofuels mandates and targets around the world, looking at the state of biofuels mandates in 52 countries around the world."
    • "The bulk of mandates comes from the EU-27, where the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) specifies a 10 percent renewables content by 2020 across the entire membership – though 7 percent of that will come from biofuels, the balance from the electrification of the fleet. The other 21 countries are primarily in Asia."
    • "Besides the EU, the major blending mandates that will drive global demand are those set in the US, China and Brazil – each of which has set targets – or, in the case of Brazil, is already there – at levels in the 15-20 percent range by 2020-2022."
    • "The major biofuels mandates – with some estimates of 2020 consumption, translate into the major drivers of the 60 billion gallons of global biofuels demand that are widely discussed, without addressing the demand for aviation, or the mandates in place in countries such as Canada, Australia, or throughout Southeast Asia."[14]
  • First EU sustainability schemes for biofuels get the go-ahead, 19 July 2011 press release by the European Commission: "In order to receive government support or count towards mandatory national renewable energy targets, biofuels used in the EU, whether locally produced or imported, have to comply with sustainability criteria. These criteria aim at preventing the conversion of areas of high biodiversity and high carbon stock for the production of raw materials for biofuels. In practice this means that biofuels made of crops that have been grown on land that used to be rainforest or natural grassland with a unique ecosystem cannot be considered as sustainable. In addition, the greenhouse gas emissions over the whole production chain need to be at least 35% lower compared to fossil fuels. That threshold will increase over time."
    • "Companies can choose whether to demonstrate compliance with these sustainability requirements through national systems or by joining a voluntary scheme which is recognised by the Commission."
    • "After a detailed assessment made by the Commission and various improvements the following schemes were recognised:
      • ISCC (German (government financed) scheme covering all types of biofuels)
      • Bonsucro EU (Roundtable initiative for sugarcane based biofuels, focus on Brazil)
      • RTRS EU RED (Roundtable initiative for soy based biofuels, focus on Argentina and Brazil)
      • RSB EU RED (Roundtable initiative covering all types of biofuels)
      • 2BSvs (French industry scheme covering all types of biofuels)
      • RSBA (Industry scheme for Abengoa covering their supply chain)
      • Greenergy (Industry scheme for Greenergy covering sugar cane ethanol from Brazil)
    • "The Commission is currently discussing with other voluntary schemes how these can also improve their standard in order to meet the sustainability requirements for biofuels."[15]
  • World's First Certified Sugarcane Hits the Market, 21 June 2011 by "Bonsucro™ today announced that the world's first impact based Standard has been used to certify the sustainable production of sugarcane."
    • "The sugarcane was produced at a Raízen mill in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the first certified sugar has been purchased by The Coca Cola Company's bottling system."
    • "Over 130,000 tons of sugar and 63,000 cubic metres of ethanol were certified against the Bonsucro Production Standard by independent certification body SGS."
    • "Bonsucro's Production Standard assesses the biodiversity, ecosystem and human rights impacts of sugarcane production and demands legal compliance and continuous improvement throughout the production process. This is assessed against key indicators, such as energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption."
    • "The members of Bonsucro™ believe that an independent mainstream certification programme is an important tool which can be used to measure and help to transform the social, environmental and economical challenges of the sugarcane industry."[16]
  • Ethanol Industry Is Unruffled by Senate Vote Against Tax Breaks, 17 June 2011 by The New York Times: "The Senate dealt the ethanol industry a rare defeat on Thursday when it voted 73-27 to end the annual $6 billion tax break given to blenders of ethanol, along with a tariff on foreign ethanol intended to protect the domestic industry from Brazilian sugar ethanol imports."
    • "The biggest government support for ethanol — the renewable fuels standard, which mandates the use of up to 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol in transport fuels — would not be touched by the amendment and appears politically safe."
    • "And lastly, just minutes after overwhelmingly voting against tax supports for ethanol, the Senate voted down another measure previously passed by the House of Representatives to prohibit public spending on special blender pumps and tanks needed to distribute higher concentrations of ethanol in gasoline."
    • "But if some tax changes do occur, some small ethanol producers who depend on the blending tax breaks are likely to get hurt and some may go out of business."[17]
  • Could palm oil help save the Amazon?, 14 June 2011 by "According to analysis by Brazil's agricultural research agency Embrapa, more than 2 million square kilometers of the Brazilian Amazon is suitable for oil palm cultivation — an area four times the size of France."
    • "Done right, oil palm could emerge as a key component in the effort to save the Amazon rainforest. Responsible production there could even force changes in other parts of the world."
    • "Planted on the degraded pasture land that abounds in the Brazilian Amazon, oil palm could generate more jobs and tax revenue than the dominant form of land use in the region: low intensity cattle ranching."
    • "If it replaces pasture, not forest, oil palm could buffer the forest frontier against fire, maintain and restore ecological functions like evapotranspiration, and help intensify cattle production in nearby areas (palm kernel, a byproduct of palm oil production, can serve a protein-rich feed)."
    • "Whether Brazil's sustainable palm oil push bears fruit will be contingent on the Brazilian government's willingness to enforce policies and industry's desire to access premium markets."[18]
  • Brazil to tighten control over supply and demand for ethanol, 13 June 2011 by Platts: "Brazil's national petroleum agency ANP unveiled late Friday detailed plans to tighten government regulation over the ethanol market, giving the sector a first glimpse of how the rules might affect supply and demand for the biofuel."
    • "If the measures are taken forward, ANP will require distributors of road transport fuel to regularly notify the agency of contracted volumes for the purchase of anhydrous ethanol as well as details of spot deals."
    • "ANP's measures aim to tackle a shortage of the biofuel during the December-April sugarcane inter-harvest period, when production of ethanol almost comes to a halt and prices surge."
    • "By keeping watch on supply flows and inventory levels, ANP intends to level out the amount of ethanol producers and distributors offer the market throughout the year, forcing companies to keep minimum stocks of the product to meet demand during the sugarcane inter-season."
    • "A government decree published on April 29 transferred the whole ethanol production and distribution chain -- including imports and exports of the product -- to the ANP, giving the sugarcane-based biofuel the status of a strategic fuel."[19]
  • Khosla chides Big Oil for lack of biofuels appetite, 6 June 2011 by Reuters: "Billionaire Vinod Khosla took Big Oil to task on Monday for taking more risk on a long-odds deepwater oil well than on the future of biomass energy that he says will change the world within decades."
    • "Speaking the 2011 Brazilian Ethanol Summit in Sao Paulo, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems said that the world is on the verge of a technological breakthrough in cost-effectively converting crops like sugarcane into most of the fuels and consumer products that petroleum now provides."
    • "The winners in his vision of the future world will be those who took the risks to invest in winning technologies, and those in possession of ample reserves of arable land to grow biomass crops, such as Brazil and the United States."
    • "Venture capital fund Khosla Ventures is the lead investor in the U.S.-based biotechnology firm Amyris that has teamed up with Brazilian sugarcane mills to produce advanced biofuels and biochemicals -- including bio-jet fuel, biodiesel, plastics and cosmetics from cane by employing bioengineered yeasts."[20]
  • Biofuels Future That U.S. Covets Takes Shape -- in Brazil, 1 June 2011 by The New York Times: "Several years ago, Amyris helped create a landmark achievement in medicine, engineering microbes to produce an expensive antimalarial drug. Related tricks, it later found, can create a liquid fuel similar to diesel."
    • "Using crop-derived sugars as its power source, rather than petroleum, vats of Amyris' bugs could provide carbon-neutral fuel for fleets of heavy trucks and planes within a decade."
    • "But if Amyris does all this, it won't be in the United States. It will be in Brazil."
    • "Blessed with tropical weather and abundant pastures that can be migrated to sugar cane cultivation, experts see a stark potential for Brazil's cane fields to grow almost without limit over the next decade."
    • "Over the past decade, many companies have begun promising to use advanced biology to create what are called "drop-in fuels" -- biofuels that, unlike the corn-derived ethanol added to U.S. gasoline, would be indistinguishable from petroleum."
    • "Brazil's ethanol complex is fueled by sugar cane, which requires far less energy to grow than corn -- it needs little fertilizer, and its syrup-sapped husks, when burned, provide all the refinery's electricity."[21]
  • Statistical confirmation of indirect land use change in the Brazilian Amazon, 24 May 2011 by Eugenio Y Arima, Peter Richards, Robert Walker and Marcellus M Caldas in Environmental Research Letters; from the Abstract:
    • "Expansion of global demand for soy products and biofuel poses threats to food security and the environment. One environmental impact that has raised serious concerns is loss of Amazonian forest through indirect land use change (ILUC), whereby mechanized agriculture encroaches on existing pastures, displacing them to the frontier. This phenomenon has been hypothesized by many researchers and projected on the basis of simulation for the Amazonian forests of Brazil....The present article [utilizes] a spatial regression model capable of linking the expansion of mechanized agriculture in settled agricultural areas to pasture conversions on distant, forest frontiers. In an application for a recent period (20032008), the model demonstrates that ILUC is significant and of considerable magnitude. Specifically, a 10% reduction of soy in old pasture areas would have decreased deforestation by as much as 40% in heavily forested counties of the Brazilian Amazon. Evidently, the voluntary moratorium on primary forest conversions by Brazilian soy farmers has failed to stop the deforestation effects of expanding soy production...."[22]
  • Brazil: Amazon rainforest deforestation rises sharply, 19 May 2011 by BBC News: "Satellite images show deforestation increased from 103 sq km in March and April 2010 to 593 sq km (229 sq miles) in the same period of 2011, Brazil's space research institute says."
    • "Much of the destruction has been in Mato Grosso state, the centre of soya farming in Brazil."
    • "Some environmentalists argue that rising demand for soy and cattle is prompting farmers to clear more of their land."
    • "But others see a direct link between the jump in deforestation and months of debate over easing an existing law on forest protection."
    • "'You have 300-400 lawmakers here in Brasilia sending the message that profiting from deforestation will be amnestied, that crime pays,' Marcio Astrini from Greenpeace told Reuters."[23]
  • World's largest beef company signs Amazon rainforest pact, 29 April 2011 by "The world's largest meat processor has agreed to stop buying beef from ranches associated with slave labor and illegal deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, according to the public prosecutor's office in the state of Acre. The deal absolves JBS-Friboi from 2 billion reals ($1.3 billion) in potential fines and paves the way for the firm to continue selling meat to companies concerned about their environmental reputation."
    • "Under the terms of the deal, JBS agreed to stop buying cattle from areas embargoed by environmental inspection agencies and lands classified as conservation units or indigenous territories, unless the management plans of those areas allow for livestock. Cattle production often occurs illegally in forests zoned for conservation or indigenous use and squatters are used as proxies to grab the land. JBS will also not buy cattle from ranches that have been convicted of labor abuses, including slave labor."
    • "The deal could help curtail deforestation for cattle production — which accounts for the bulk of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon — but its effectiveness still hinges on local governance, where corruption remains a problem."[24]
  • Campaigners should support aviation industry biofuel trials, 20 April 2011 by Paul Steele of the Air Transport Action Group in The Ecologist: "Having seen the issues caused by road transport’s use of first generation sources, the aviation industry has been proactive in trying to ‘do it right,’ from the start. At the same time, the aviation industry does not have the luxury of a variety of renewable energy sources like other sectors (wind, solar, hydrogen etc) and is therefore focussed on developing second generation sustainable biofuels as a means of reducing GHG emissions."
    • "We have been working with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels to set in place a set of robust criteria to determine the sustainability of feedstock, including the impact that these crops will have on local populations and lifecycle CO2 emissions. Grown responsibly, jatropha can have a positive impact on the livelihoods of those growing it and also bring about impressive reductions in carbon emissions."
    • "In fact, a recent Yale University study showed that jatropha plantations in Brazil are able to have as much as an 85 per cent decrease in lifecycle carbon emissions, when grown in a responsible way. But jatropha is just one potential source of biofuel for aviation – a range of non-food crops and advanced biomass sources such as algae promise to provide low-carbon fuel for air transport."[25]
  • Sugarcane Cools Climate, Study Finds, 17 April 2011 by Science Daily: "Brazilians are world leaders in using biofuels for gasoline. About a quarter of their automobile fuel consumption comes from sugarcane, which significantly reduces carbon dioxide emissions that otherwise would be emitted from using gasoline. Now scientists from the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology have found that sugarcane has a double benefit. Expansion of the crop in areas previously occupied by other Brazilian crops cools the local climate. It does so by reflecting sunlight back into space and by lowering the temperature of the surrounding air as the plants 'exhale' cooler water."
    • "The scientists found that converting from natural vegetation to crop/pasture on average warmed the cerrado by 2.79 °F (1.55 °C), but that subsequent conversion to sugarcane, on average, cooled the surrounding air by 1.67 °F (0.93°C)."
    • "The researchers emphasize that the beneficial effects are contingent on the fact sugarcane is grown on areas previously occupied by crops or pastureland, and not in areas converted from natural vegetation. It is also important that other crops and pastureland do not move to natural vegetation areas, which would contribute to deforestation."[26]
    • See the full study in the journal Nature Climate Change, "Direct impacts on local climate of sugar-cane expansion in Brazil"
  • Shell Shifts Biofuel Technology Focus to Brazil Sugar-Cane Waste, 8 April 2011 by "Shell, Iogen Corp. and Codexis Inc. (CDXS) have been researching enzymes to produce cellulosic ethanol from wheat stalks and sugar-cane bagasse, a sugar industry waste product."
    • "The Anglo- Dutch company has set up a $12 billion venture with Cosan SA Industria & Comercio to produce and market traditional sugar- cane ethanol in Brazil, where it’s used to fuel cars."
    • "The Hague-based Shell, Europe’s largest oil company by market value, expects the share of renewable energy in transport fuels worldwide to double over the next 10 years."
    • "Shell and Cosan, which controls the world’s largest sugar- cane processor, last year agreed to combine ethanol-making and fuel distribution assets in Brazil. Shell agreed to contribute about $1.6 billion of cash and assets including 2,740 service stations, while Cosan put up 23 cane-crushing mills, 1,730 gas stations and other assets."
    • "The cellulosic ethanol technology will let Shell and Cosan further grow fuel output in Brazil. The partners need to scale the process to a pilot project from a demonstration plant to see if it works and that may take as long as five years. If successful, industrial-scale production may start by the end of the decade, according to Shell."[27]
  • Brazil wants greater regulation of sugar, ethanol, 6 April 2011 by Reuters: "Brazil wants to increase regulation of the domestic ethanol market to ensure output, a senior government official said on Wednesday, signaling a move that could have major implications for global sugar supplies."
    • "President Dilma Rousseff has instructed Brazil's National Oil Agency, or ANP, to draft regulations that will treat ethanol as a 'strategic fuel' and no longer as an agricultural commodity, Haroldo Lima, the agency's director, told Reuters."
    • "Brazil controls more than half of the world's sugar trade and is a pioneer in biofuels such as ethanol, which it makes from sugarcane. Ethanol shares about an equal amount of the local fuels market with gasoline."
    • "World sugar prices are 25 percent off 30-year highs set in February and Brazilian cane mills have been pushing production of the sweetener close to capacity and at the expense of ethanol production."
    • "For years, Brazilian officials have threatened to tax sugar exports as a way of ensuring greater output of ethanol in between cane harvests."
    • "Brazil has imported more than 150 million liters of U.S. ethanol this year as producers struggle to supply the local market during cane interharvest, the director of a large ethanol group estimated last month."[28]
  • Brazilian demand for U.S. ethanol expected to increase, 6 April 2011 by Ethanol Producer Magazine: "U.S. ethanol exports to Brazil are expected to increase during the month of April in order to fill supply gaps brought on by economic difficulties experienced within the country."
    • "Raphael Hudson, Hart Energy’s director of research and consulting for Latin America, said high sugar prices have had some impact on Brazil’s ethanol industry, but have not played a significant role because the ability for mills to switch from sugar to ethanol production or vice versa is somewhat limited. He attributes the country’s ethanol supply shortage mostly to economic factors."
    • "UNICA, Brazil’s sugarcane industry association, stated that ethanol exports from Brazil are anticipated to drop by nearly 20 percent this season compared to the previous period. Fewer exports will improve the tight supply situation, but not by much."
    • "Last year, the country also experienced tightening supply between February and April, but chose to temporarily reduce its blend mandate from E25 to E20 in order to alleviate supply/demand issues. That wasn’t done this year, presumably as an attempt to encourage free trade with the U.S. with the hope of receiving some reciprocity in the future."[29]
  • Bristol's biofuels plant must be refused planning permission, 10 February 2011 by The Guardian: "Burning biofuels in power stations is environmental vandalism on a staggering scale."
    • "The operators have two options. They could burn the cheapest available vegetable oils, which means palm and soya oil. These are also the most destructive: driving massive deforestation in both south-east Asia and the Amazon"
    • "Alternatively, the operators could burn cheaper oils, such as rapeseed. In doing so, they cause two problems. The first is to raise world food prices. The second is to create a vacuum in the world edible oils market, which is filled by … palm and soya oil."
    • "Whichever kind of vegetable oil you burn, you'll end up trashing the rainforests of Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil."
    • "Somehow the government still classes burning edible oils to make electricity as green, and issues renewables obligations certificates for it – which is the only reason why it's happening."[30]
  • 110 Advanced Biofuels Projects Now in Development, 14 January 2011 by Renewable Energy "Today, the Biofuels Digest released version 1.7 of its free Advanced Biofuels Tracking Database, projecting advanced biofuels capacity for the 2011-2015 period."
    • "The new database, which is the quarterly update tracking new projects and changes in capacity announced since October, includes updates on 13 companies and their projects in Australia, Austria, Brazil, India, the Netherlands, Norway and the US."
    • "The database now tracks 110 advanced biofuels projects, and projects that advanced biofuels capacity will reach 718 million gallons in 2011, 1.522 billion by 2012, 2.685 billion by 2013, and 3.579 billion gallons by 2014."
    • "Renewable drop-in fuels (renewable gasoline, and renewable diesel, and biobutanol) have climbed to 59 percent of planned advanced biofuels capacity by 2015."[31]


  • Cars and People Compete for Grain, 1 June 2010 by Earth Policy Institute: "Historically the food and energy economies were separate, but now with the massive U.S. capacity to convert grain into ethanol, that is changing....If the fuel value of grain exceeds its food value, the market will simply move the commodity into the energy economy."
    • "For every additional acre planted to corn to produce fuel, an acre of land must be cleared for cropping elsewhere. But there is little new land to be brought under the plow unless it comes from clearing tropical rainforests in the Amazon and Congo basins and in Indonesia or from clearing land in the Brazilian cerrado."[37]
  • Lula Defends Biofuel Push in Amazon Region, 12 May 2010 by Latin American Herald Tribune: "Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is championing efforts to industrialize the Amazon region with initiatives such as the cultivation of palm oil for biofuel production."
    • "He said the initiative would end the state’s dependence on the timber market, considered a main culprit of Amazon deforestation, and hailed palm-oil plantations as environmentally friendly, saying they would re-use deforested areas."
    • The project is "[b]acked by the federal government and state-controlled energy giant Petrobras," and "would involve total investment of 1.3 billion reais ($702 million)."
    • "The Brazilian government estimates that close to 2,000 Para farmers would benefit from the project, which is expected to create 7,000 direct jobs and 15,000 indirect jobs. The plan also involves improvements to roads and bridges that would benefit the entire region."[38]
  • Deforestation-free leather comes closer to reality in the Brazilian Amazon, 3 May 2010 by "Prominent leather buyers have developed a new traceability system to ensure that leather products from Brazil don't result in deforestation, reports the National Wildlife Federation, an NGO working to improve the environmental performance of the cattle industry in the Amazon."
    • "Under the terms of the protocol, meat packers must certify that all their direct suppliers have registered their farms — providing GPS coordinates of their holdings — by November 2010. Packers who fail to meet the criteria will be unable to sell leather to members of the Leather Working Group."
    • "Improving the traceability of beef and leather is significant because cattle ranching is the single largest driver of Amazon destruction: 80 percent of deforested land ends up as cattle pasture. Ranching is also Brazil's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions."[39]
  • Brazilian Senator Marina Silva comments on sugarcane ethanol in Washington, DC press conference, 26 April 2010 by BioenergyWiki staff (Rachel Kramer & Melina Unger): "We are not going to meet the world’s energy demands with sugarcane ethanol, but Brazil can make a great contribution," said Senator Silva.
    • When questioned about potential sustainability and deforestation concerns related to land use change for increased ethanol production from sugarcane, Senator Silva commented on the need for a national certification system to guarantee demand for ethanol would not compromise food production (expansion of sugarcane farming is currently prohibited in the Pantanal and Amazon regions).
  • Does growing soy destroy Amazon rainforest?, 16 April 2010 by Environmental Research Web: "In the first seven years of this century, around 19 million hectares of rainforest in the Legal Amazon region of Brazil were cut down. But the jury's out on the chief culprit behind this deforestation – some say it's the growth in cattle ranches while others believe it's increased cultivation of crops such as soy."
    • "Cattle ranching has boomed in the Brazilian Amazon since the late 1970s when state subsidies and infrastructure development kicked in. But export crops such as soy, which is mainly used in animal feed and cooking oil, have increased significantly over the last decade, encouraged by expanding world markets and government incentives. Today Brazil is one of the world's largest exporters of agricultural products."[41]
    • Read the full report, The role of pasture and soybean in deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon
  • Rival Ethanol Trade Groups Campaigning to Woo Senators, Clobber Each Other, 13 April 2010 by Greenwire/New York Times: "Two rival trade groups seeking congressional help for the ethanol industry launched advertising yesterday to promote themselves and bash one another."
    • "Growth Energy Inc., which represents U.S.-based corn ethanol producers, seeks to maintain supremacy at home, while the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association, or UNICA, wants to tear down corn ethanol's benefits in order to grab a larger share of the U.S. market."
    • "UNICA seeks elimination of the import tariff and of domestic subsidies for biofuels."
    • UNICA hopes "'the Sweeter Alternative campaign will help Americans understand how sugar-cane ethanol is a clean and affordable renewable fuel that could help them save money at the pump, cut U.S. dependence on Middle East oil and improve the environment,' said Joel Velasco, UNICA's chief representative in North America, in a statement."[42]
  • Brazil "temporarily" lifts ethanol tariff, baits trade hooks, 8 April 2010 by Nik Bristow at Autoblog Green: "In a gesture to improve biofuel trade relations with the U.S. and other countries, Brazil's Council of Ministers of the Board of Foreign Trade (MDIC) has temporarily lifted the country's tariff on imported ethanol, changing the tax rate from 20 percent to zero percent. The tariff will be lifted through the end of 2011."
    • "UNICA [The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association] has made it clear to the Brazilian government it hopes the tariff reduction is permanent, particularly should "other countries" reduce their tariffs on ethanol imports. The Brazillians are quite aware that the hefty U.S. tariff on imported ethanol expires at the end of this year."
    • "The United States imposes two duties on ethanol imports: a 2.5 percent ad valorem tariff plus an additional "other duty or charge" of $.54 per gallon. According to data from the US International Trade Commission (ITC), the combined duties have amounted to about a 30 percent tariff on ethanol imports."[43]
Cattle on a 'semi-intensification' model ranch in Acre state in the Brazilian Amazon.


  • CLIMATE CHANGE: Brazil Defends Biofuels, 9 December 2009 by IPS/TerraViva: "Being the world’s largest producer and exporter of ethanol it is natural for the Brazilian government and its partners to push biofuels as the only real alternative for a world trying wean itself away from fossil fuels that contribute to global warming."
    • "Brazilian authorities were ready with their arguments at the United Nations climate change summit"...."at pains to show that not only is biofuel production the best way to reduce greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions but can also combat poverty as exemplified by the country’s scheme to promote micro-distilleries to provide additional income for rural families."
    • "While admitting that "biofuels are no silver bullet," Brazilian authorities insist that biofuels are the best way forward for developing countries."[45]
  • The pros and cons of biofuels: Ethanol tanks , 22 October 2009 by The Economist: "A report commissioned by the United Nations" found that:
    • Ethanol from sugar cane, which Brazil produces, "in some circumstances does better than just 'zero emission'. If grown and processed correctly, it has 'negative emission' — pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere, rather than adding it. America’s use of maize for biofuel is less efficient. Properly planted and processed, it does cut emissions; done poorly, it is more polluting than petrol."
    • However, "two papers published in Science...provide further reasons for caution." One, by Jerry Melillo, "suggests that the knock-on effects of growing biofuel crops, in terms of displaced food crops and extra fertiliser (an important source of a greenhouse gas called nitrous oxide), make the whole enterprise risky. The other", by Tim Searchinger, "points out a dangerous inconsistency in the way the Earth’s carbon balance-sheet is drawn up for the purposes of international law."[46]
  • Giants in Cattle Industry Agree to Help Fight Deforestation, 6 October 2009 by The New York Times: "At a conference...organized by Greenpeace, the four cattle companies — Bertin, JBS-Friboi, Marfrig and Minerva — agreed to support Greenpeace’s call for an end to the deforestation."
    • "Blairo Maggi, the governor of Mato Grosso, the Brazilian state with the highest rate of deforestation in the Amazon and the country’s largest cattle herd, said Monday that he would support efforts to protect the Amazon and provide high-resolution satellite imagery to help monitor the region."
    • "Conspicuously missing from Monday’s announcement was the government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil. The government is struggling to reconcile its social and development goals in the Amazon with its desire to be a major player in global climate change talks."
  • Unilever starts tea origin certification program in Brazil, 01 October 2009 by FoodBizDaily: "World demand for tea is growing at a faster pace than its supply this year. But consumers, particularly in Europe, United States and Japan want to make sure that by drinking their cup of tea they are not helping to destroy the environment or encouraging the use of slave labor. This situation has led Unilever, world’s largest tea company, to certify the origin and production of its tea in countries such as Kenya and Argentina. It is a process that begins to be deployed in Brazil."
    • "Teramoto states that if Brazilian producers adopt Imaflora recommendations - a package that even includes the commitment to preserve an area of the original forest - certifications may be granted in the first quarter of 2010. With the Sustainable Agriculture Certification seal in hand, producers, which export 90% to the United States, Canada, England and Chile, may charge a higher price of Unilever, which accounts for 80% of Brazilian black tea exports."
  • JBS agrees to protect Amazon forest 28 September 2009 by Northern Colorado Business Report: JBS, the world's largest beef company, "has agreed to make a commitment to Greenpeace to not buy products from protected areas in the Amazon region" it will "abide by practices that 'eliminate deforestation' in the Amazon biome." [47]
  • UN's Ban calls deforestation summit, 3 September 2009 by AFP: "UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Thursday he planned to bring together leaders of the world's most forested nations, including Brazil and Indonesia, for a meeting this month to discuss deforestation" on 22 September.
    • "The UN Environment Programme recently underlined that since trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), stemming deforestation could be a tried and tested method in tackling climate change instead of more ambitious carbon capture projects."
    • The proposed meeting in New York would coincide with the UN summit on climate change."[49]
  • Beef Producers in Amazon Declare Moratorium, 28 August 2009 by VOA News: "Major beef and leather producers in Brazil have agreed not to use cattle raised in recently deforested areas of the Amazon rainforest."
    • "The governor of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso has called on meat producers not to buy cattle raised on recently deforested lands in the Amazonian state. Now, two major beef producers in Brazil, Bertin and Marfrig, have announced they are joining the initiative. Shoe makers Nike and Timberland signed on earlier this month."
    • "The Brazilian government and independent third-party observers will enforce the moratorium using satellite photographs, aerial fly-overs, and site visits. The meat processors have agreed not to buy cattle from those responsible for newly deforested lands."
    • "Brazil is already using this system to monitor soybean production. The country is a major soy producer, and since 2006 a coalition representing soybean growers, processors, and civil society groups has been cooperating on a moratorium on soy from recently deforested Amazon land."[50]
  • BP Gives up on Jatropha for Biofuel, 17 July 2009 by the Wall Street Journal's blog Environmental Capital: "BP has indeed given up on jatropha, the shrub once touted as the great hope for biofuels, and walked away from its jatropha joint venture for less than $1 million."
    • "Speculation abounded this summer that BP was ready to jettison its participation in the project with British partner partner D1 Oils. The original plan called for the investment of $160 million to turn the jatropha tree into feedstock to make transportation fuel. Now, BP will turn its alternative-fuel efforts toward ethanol in Brazil and the U.S., as well as biobutanol."[52]
  • Brazilian miner Vale signs $500M palm oil deal in the Amazon, 25 June 2009 by "Vale, the world's largest miner of iron ore, has signed a $500 million joint venture with Biopalma da Amazonia to produce 160,000 metric tons of palm oil-based biodiesel per year....The biodiesel will be produced from oil palm plantations in the Amazon state of Pará."
    • "environmentalists...fear palm oil production could soon become a major driver of deforestation in the region. Cultivation of oil palm is a leading cause of forest loss across Southeast Asia, but has yet to be widely planted in the Brazilian Amazon, where deforestation is mostly driven directly by conversion for cattle pasture expansion and indirectly by expansion of industrial agriculture, including soy."
  • Deforestation and carbon credits: Seeing REDD in the Amazon, 11 June 2009 by The Economist: "Saving rainforests needs both property rights and payment."
    • "A law approved this month by Brazil's Congress...would grant title to all landholdings up to 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) occupied before 2005 in the Amazon, comprising an area the size of France, and ban further land claims. The law entrenches injustice: it risks rewarding people who used violence to obtain land, including large land holders who occupy almost 90% of the area under discussion."
    • "As with other forms of carbon credit, today's voluntary and experimental REDD schemes will need to be replaced by more rigorously accredited and monitored schemes. But they have a chance of working only if the countries in which they operate define forest land rights clearly. Brazil's flawed attempt to do this is a step forward."
  • Slaughtering the Amazon (link to PDF), 01 June 2009 by Greenpeace: "The cattle sector in the Brazilian Amazon is the largest driver of deforestation in the world, responsible for one in every eight hectares destroyed globally."
    • "The cattle sector in the Brazilian Amazon is responsible for 14% of the world's annual deforestation."
    • "The Brazilian Amazon has the greatest annual average deforestation by area of anywhere in the world....According to the Brazilian government: 'Cattle are responsible for about 80% of all deforestation' in the Amazon region. In recent years, on average one hectare of Amazon rainforest has been lost to cattle ranchers every 18 seconds."
    • "The Amazon is estimated to store 80-120 billion tonnes of carbon. If destroyed, some fifty times the annual GHG emissions of the USA could be emitted." [53]
  • Brazil Can Protect Amazon as Crop Output Expands, Unger Says, 15 April 2009 by Bloomberg News: "Brazil can protect its Amazon rainforest and boost agricultural output by planting crops in areas now used for low-intensity ranching, Minister of Strategic Affairs Roberto Mangabeira Unger said."
    • "Brazil, the world's second-biggest soybean grower, yesterday renewed a ban on sales of the oilseed planted illegally in the Amazon rainforest."
    • "Brazil is also the world's biggest beef exporter and the biggest coffee and sugar-cane grower."[55]
  • Brazil soy growers fear green backlash, plant trees, 17 March 2009 by Reuters: "Soybean farmer Clovis Cortezia has started replanting native rainforest trees on his farm to meet demands of international buyers keen to be environmentally responsible."
    • "Like other growers in Brazil's No. 1 soy-producing state Mato Grosso, Cortezia started replanting trees native to Brazil's center-west savanna in 2007".
    • "Environmental and consumer groups, particularly in Europe, have long complained that rapid expansion of Brazil's soy frontier was speeding up the deforestation of the Amazon."
    • "Cortezia's restoration program is typical of simlar efforts launched by growers to meet 'green requirements' ranging from soil conservation to proper agrochemicals use."
    • "Cortezia is part of the a program organized by the local government in a partnership with U.S. environment group The Nature Conservancy (TNC)."[56]
  • Brazil wants help lifting US ethanol tariffs, 17 March 2009 by the International Herald Tribune: "Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Monday implored American businessmen to help convince the United States to lift the 53-cent-per-gallon import tariff it places on his country's ethanol fuel."
    • Silva, "who met with President Barack Obama on Saturday, has made little progress persuading the U.S. to reduce the tariffs, which are in place to protect American farmers who make ethanol from corn. Brazil makes ethanol from sugar, in a process that is much more efficient and costs less."[57]
  • Petrobras plans US$2.8 billion investment in biofuels, 4 March 2009 by Energy Current: "Petrobras Biocombustível plans to invest around US$2.4 billion in biodiesel and ethanol production over 2009 to 2013, 91 percent of which will be made in Brazil."
    • "One of the company's goals is to reach production of 640 million liters of biodiesel in Brazil by 2012. To achieve this goal, Petrobras plans to build a new plant in northern Brazil, duplicate its Candeias plant in the state of Bahia, and adapts its experimental plants in Guamaré, in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, for commercial production."[58]


  • Biofuel producers warn EU over "unjustifiably complex" sustainability rules, 7 November 2008 by BusinessGreen: "Eight developing countries have written to the EU warning they will complain to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) if it passes proposed legislation designed to improve the environmental sustainability of biofuels by restricting the types of fuels the bloc imports."
    • "The EU is considering legislation that is intended to ban the purchase of biofuels from energy crop plantations that are believed to harm the environment and lead to food shortages by displacing land used for food crops and contributing to rainforest deforestation."
    • "[E]ight countries - Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Indonesia and Malaysia - have written to the EU to protest against the proposals" in a letter that "claims that the new rules would 'impose unjustifiably complex requirements on producers' and argues that environmental criteria 'relating to land-use change will impinge disproportionately on developing countries'."[59]
  • EU biofuel panic threatens planet - Brazil envoy, 19 September 2008 by Reuters/Business Feed: "Europe's heated debate over biofuels risks weakening one of the world's best tools to fight climate change and one of the developing world's best hopes for economic growth, Brazil's ambassador to the EU said on Friday."
    • "'What I fear is the debate over biofuels has taken on a very emotional character and we have somewhere got lost in this emotion,'" said Maria Celina de Azevedo Rodrigues."
    • The "huge potential market for biofuels is coveted by exporters such as Brazil, Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as European farming nations. But the European Parliament last week agreed a 6 percent limit for fuels from foods such as Brazilian sugar."[60]
  • IDB launches interactive Biofuels Sustainability Scorecard 9 September 2008 press release by the IADB. The Inter-American Development Bank released an interactive tool known as the Biofuels Sustainability Scorecard on September 9th, during the 4th Annual Western Hemisphere Energy Security and Cooperation Forum, held at IDB's headquarters in Washington DC. and as part of a comprehensive effort to ensure that biofuel investments produce social, economic and environmental benefits. The Scorecard addresses 23 key environmental and social issues such as food security, greenhouse gas emissions, water management, land use change, biodiversity or poverty reduction. The IDB is inviting comments and suggestions regarding the Scorecard, which is available, during a six month public consultation period that will end in March 2009.
  • Small farmers to join Brazil sustainable cane move, 1 September 2008, by Reuters: "Dozens of small and medium-scale farmers in Brazil's Sao Paulo state will grow sugar cane certified as meeting strict social and environmental standards, the region's cane producers association said late on Thursday."
    • Sugarcane suppliers joining the program "must refuse the use of child or slave labor, limit their use of agrochemicals, and gather their cane with mechanical harvesters as opposed to cutting it manually. Manual cutting involves burning the plant's foliage, which pollutes the air."
    • "Production standards, which will come into force on August 30, were set by Organizacao Internacional Agropecuaria (OIA), a private company which provides inspection and certification services."[61]
  • Prsident Lula promises aid to Costa Rica to produce biofuels, La Nación, [62], July 31 2008. Brazil's President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, promised technical and technological support for Costa Rica to produce biofuels. Lula da Silva said that Costa Rica has the conditions to lead a "biofuel revolution in Central America." He also emphasized the country's environmental sustainability and long tradition with sugar cane crops. Lula da Silva confirmed his visit to Costa Rica early next year. The presidents signed in Brasilia 10 agreements of technical cooperation offered by Brazil since 1997, among others, the agreement to provide Brazilian assistance in biofuel production.
  • Biofuels major driver of food price rise - World Bank 28 July 2008, Reuters. A World Bank policy research working paper released today says that biofuels have raised food prices between 70 to 75 percent. The study found that higher oil prices and a weak dollar explain 25-30% of total price rise. The "month-by-month" five year analysis disputes that increases in global grain consumption and droughts were responsible for price increases, reporting that this had had only a marginal impact and instead argues that the EU and US drive for biofuels has had by far the biggest impact on food supply and prices. The paper concludes that increased production of biofuels in the US and EU were supported by subsidies and tariffs on imports, and considers that without these policies, price increases would have been smaller. This research also concluded that Brazil's sugar cane based ethanol has not raised sugar prices significantly, and suggest to remove tariffs on ethanol imports by both the US and EU, to allow more efficient producers such as Brazil and other developing countries to produce ethanol profitably for export to meet the mandates in the UE and the US. Access the full report here,
  • IDB lends $269 million for three Brazilian ethanol plants 23 July 2008 press release by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) regarding the Board's approval of the loan today: 'At a time of soaring food and energy prices, it is crucial to develop renewable fuels that don't compete with food crops,' said IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno. 'After examining the social, environmental and economic dimensions of these projects for more than a year, we concluded that they will produce clean and sustainable energy and provide quality jobs - without impacting food prices in any way."
  • Biofuels Battle: Tear Down The Brazilian Wall, 1 July 2008 in the Wall Street Journal's Environmental Capital blog: "Biofuels have few friends lately. But Brazil's biofuel industry found a big one -- U.S. Senator Richard Lugar."
    • "Sen. Lugar thinks Brazilian ethanol -- made from sugarcane rather than corn -- could help lower U.S. gasoline prices, which have reached record levels. Unica, not surprisingly, thinks the same, and blames Washington's $0.54 per gallon tariff on Brazilian ethanol for American pain at the pump."
  • Another Inconvenient Truth: Biofuels are not the answer to climate or fuel crisis, 26 June 2008. A report released by Oxfam today criticized biofuel policies of rich countries and concluded that from all biofuels available in the market, Brazilian sugarcane ethanol is "far from perfect" but it is the most favorable biofuel in the world in term of cost and GHG balance. The report discusses some existing problems and potential risks, and asks the Brazilian government for caution to avoid jeopardazing its environmental and social sustainability. The report also says that: Rich countries spent up to $15 billion last year supporting biofuels while blocking cheaper Brazilian ethanol, which is far less damaging for global food security. Access full the report here.
  • Amazon Deforestation Surging Again, 18th January 2008. According to Reuters, "Deforestation of the Amazon has surged in recent months and is likely to rise in 2008 for the first time in four years, a senior Brazilian government scientist said on Wednesday."
  • "Corn... fuel... fire! U.S. corn subsidies promote Amazon deforestation", 8 January 2008 press release from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute: According to STRI researcher William Laurance, "Amazon deforestation and fires are being aggravated by US farm subsidies...that promote American corn production for ethanol." Corn subsidies also result in farmers reducing production of soy -- thus increasing global soy prices, which in turn promotes burning of forests in the Brazilian Amazon in order to clear land for soy cultivation.
    • According to Laurance, "The evidence of a corn connection to the Amazon is circumstantial, but it's about as close as you ever get to a smoking gun."[65]
  • Brazil case accents need for new biofuels rules. Brazil is preparing to finally take their case against US ethanol tariffs before the WTO. It is expected that regardless of the results of the case, the WTO will be prompted to develop new rules for the regulation of biofuels.


  • U.S., Brazil plan ethanol partnership 2 March 2007 by USA Today, reports that an international partnership to promote trade in ethanol is to be launched during U.S. President Bush's visit to Brazil next week. The article reports that the "USA and Brazil produce more than 70% of the world's ethanol" and that the partnership will promote "research to make ethanol production more efficient" and work to create "a global market."



International organizations

  • International Biofuels Forum - Brazil is a founding member of this group, which is working to develop standards for biofuels and facilitate their development as an international commodity.

Governmental organizations

  • Ministry of Science and Technology

Nongovernmental organizations

  • Brazilian Forum of Non-governmental Organizations and Social Movements (FBOMS)
    • FBOMS issued the report "Sustainability Criteria and Indicators for Bioenergy," February, 2006.
  • Federation of Rural Workers of Brazil
  • Rede Social

Industry organizations

Labor organizations

  • Central Union of Workers (CUT)
  • Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST)

Academic organizations

  • University of Campinas (São Paulo)


See books, reports, scientific papers, position papers and websites for additional useful resources.

  • Ethanol Expansion And Indirect Land Use Change In Brazil, June 2011 by Joaquim Bento de Souza Ferreira Filho and Mark Horridge from the Centre of Policy Studies. From the Abstract: "Indirect land use change from ethanol in Brazil is modelled by Ferreira Filho and Horridge using dynamic general equilibrium modelling (the ‘Brazilian Input-Output model’). For 2020, they find that each hectare of additional sugarcane for ethanol requires 0.14 hectare of new land conversion. This is nearly double the value reported by Nassar et al. (2010)."[66]
  • Sustainability of Brazilian Bioethanol (PDF)by Edward Smeets, Martin Junginger, André Faaij (Utrecht University); Arnaldo Walter, Paulo Dolzan (State University of Campinas); commissioned by SenterNovem, The Netherlands Agency for Sustainable Development and Innovation, August 2006.
    • This is a very comprehensive assessment of the Brazilian ethanol industry, including all the social and environmental impacts.



  • Ethablog - "The only blog in English dedicated to Brazilian ethanol"


  1. Consumo de álcool supera o de gasolina pela primeira vez em 20 anos (Portuguese)
  2. ANP: consumo de álcool combustível é 50% maior em 2007 (Portuguese)
  3. Lei de 28 de Outubro de 1993. (Portuguese) Since July 2007 the mandatory blend is E25
  4. Veículos flex somam 6 milhões e alcançam 23% da frota (Portuguese)
  5. Ethanol fuel in Brazil at Wikipedia
  6. National Program on Biodiesel Production and Use Pamphlet (English)

Brazil edit

Events | Issues | News | Policies | Publications | Organizations (Companies) || Social Fuel Stamp
Deforestation - causes: Cattle ranching | Logging | Soy farming
Events: Biofuels as a driving force of sustainable development (2008)
International Workshop on Solutions to Deforestation and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Caused by Cattle Expansion (2009)

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