Brazil Sustainability Issues

The critical environmental and sustainability issues of Brazil:

  1. Pollution causing Health Issues

Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo were ranked the 12th and 17th most polluted cities in an evaluation based on World Bank and United Nations data of emissions and air quality in 18 mega-cities. The multi-pollutant index used to perform the evaluation did not include any of the pollutants specific to the air quality impacts of ethanol fuel use. In Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Vitória between the years of 1998 and 2005, 5% of the total annual deaths in the age groups of children aged 5 and younger and adults aged 65 and older were attributed to air pollution levels in these cities. 

The two greatest sources of water pollution from ethanol production come from mills in the form of waste water from washing sugarcane stems prior to passing through mills, and vinasse, produced in distillation.These factors cause people to consume non potable water which can lead to deaths.  


  1. Low Investment  

Brazil also features one of the lowest levels of infrastructure investment (2.1% of GDP) in comparison to its peers, and the quality of these investments is low. The economic crisis was a result of falling commodity prices and the country’s limited ability to carry out necessary fiscal reforms at all levels of government, thus undermining consumer and investor confidence. 2017 saw the beginning of a slow recovery in Brazil’s economic activity, with 1.1% of GDP growth in 2017 and 2018 – largely because of a weak labor market, investments deferred by uncertainties about the elections and the truckers’ general strike, which brought economic activities to a halt in May of 2018.


  1. Poverty

The Lula administration (2003–2011) reduced the rate of poverty to 9.8% based on labor income during June 2002 and June 2006 according to Fundação Getúlio Vargas. In June 2006, the rate of extreme poverty was 18.57% of the population.

The rate of poverty is in part attributed to the country’s economic inequality. Brazil ranks among the world’s highest nations in the Gini coefficient index of inequality assessment. A study on the subject  shows that the poor segment constitutes roughly one third of the population, and the extremely poor make out 13% (2005 figures). However, the same study shows the income growth of the poorest 20% population segment to be almost on par with China, while the richest 10% are stagnating.


  1. Increasing Crime Rate

Brazil has serious problems with crime. With roughly 23.8 homicides per 100,000 residents, muggings, robberies, kidnappings and gang violence are common. Police brutality and corruption are widespread. In response, the Brazilian government established the National Public Security Force (FNSP) in June 2004 by the Ministry of Justice, to act in situations of emergency, in times of crisis.

More than 800,000 people were murdered in Brazil between 1980 and 2004.There were a total of 63,880 murders in Brazil in 2018.


  1. Carbon dioxide Emission

Private sector involvement in the waste-to-energy industry includes companies such as Siemens, CNIM, Keppel-Seghers, Hitachi Zosen Inova, Sener, Pöyry, Fisia-Babcock, Malcolm Pirnie and others who are already established in Brazil and developing waste-to-energy projects. Some cities currently considering such projects are Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, São José dos Campos, São Bernardo do Campo and others. Clean development mechanism projects are also beginning to develop at some Brazilian landfills. These projects are established to collect gases produced on-site and convert them into energy. For example, at a landfill in Nova Iguaçu (Rio de Janeiro area), methane is being collected and converted into electricity. This process is expected to eliminate 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2012.