The Environmental Proposals of Presidential Candidates in Brazil

In the last week of October we will know who will be the new President and today we have two main candidates: Dilma Rousseff (PT) and Aécio Neves (PSDB). While the voting intention polls consistently showed the tendency toward a run-off election between Dilma and Marina, Brazil has decided to choose between Dilma an Aecio.

The pre-election debates are an opportunity to evaluate what the candidates offer as government proposal for the next four years. The mandatory presentation of proposal of government programs is not new, but it has always been seen as a bureaucratic procedure, emptied of larger purposes unless cater to the electoral law. This year, however, this began to change.

Not only the national media began to explore this issue more accurately, but the discussion of proposals are gaining more attention of Brazilian society. The environmental agenda, always relegated to the background in elections in Brazil, fortunately begins to gain a more substantial space in the proposals of the candidates.

Still, it is important that two caveats must be mentioned:

(1) There is no guarantee that these government programs are the hallmarks that effectively guide the action of the winner candidate when she/he assume the presidency. Incidentally, the difference between them can be immense. Evidence of this has come up here and there, like the fact that one of the candidates radically changed some of its programmatic proposals in less than 24 hours after the official program release.

(2) The absence of a clear pattern of how to present the programs leads to large discrepancies of form and content between them, making any comparison difficult to be done.

If these documents are not guarantors of what's to come in the governmental agenda of the next president, we can at least glimpse in which direction in terms of policy priorities each tends to follow if elected. The candidates' programs are important references in the profile, the representation of sectors of society, the vision and overall development strategy for the country, and the weight they give to the environmental agenda and the national and international agenda on climate change.

Candidates Overview

The following is a summary of the two candidates and a general comparison of their views and proposals related to an environmental agenda, based in their programs of government.

Dilma Rousseff: Candidate for re-election, she represents a more progressive and popular agenda with a strong developmentalist approach associated with social inclusion, the State’s role in conducing redistributive social policies, jobs and income generation, large infrastructure projects and intensive natural resource exploitation. In terms of foreign affairs, she emphasizes South-South relations, multilateralism and regional integration.

Aécio Neves: He is an expression of a project and political forces situated in the liberal-conservative side. He is the candidate with a markedly market-led development model. This foreign relations approach does not focus on regional integration but in rapprochement with the traditional powers and trade liberalization agreements.

Common agendas?

The environmental and climate change agenda have never been so present in the candidates for the presidency of Brazil programs. While there is still much to advance in terms of qualifying the debates and linking this agenda with the discussions about the development model followed by the country, it is clear that the proposals of the three candidates in this area start from very similar diagnoses. Topics such as energy and urban mobility are emphasized in both candidates, with quite similar proposals.

Both candidates signal the goal of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. They propose more investments in diversification of energy sources and resumption of the importance of biofuels like ethanol. The difference lies in greater or lesser degree of centrality given to alternative sources in this process.

All candidates state the need of fostering public and private investments in implementing environmental policies, but with different weights in each proposal. They all emphasize the need for more investments in urban mobility and improving public transport. This last issue is surely a response to the demonstrations of June 2013 that shook the country and had as catalyst the demand for better public transport services. All candidates value and promise to maintain and improve social inclusion programs like Bolsa Família and programs to support small farm holders. However, the promise of supporting and promoting agribusiness is also unanimity.

"The urban reform to improve the quality of life of the urban population, which today represents 81% of Brazilians. This reform will face the challenge of addressing the housing deficit, the issue of urban mobility, sanitation and public safety. "Dilma Rousseff

The International Agenda on Climate Change

Regarding Brazil's role in international climate change negotiations, however, the differences are striking.

Rousseff says that the Brazilian government has been active and that it shall keep acting according to the principle of ‘Common But Differentiated Responsibilities’. Previous candidate Marina Silva, however, had said that Brazil has been using this principle in a static and defensive way in order to avoid assuming new commitments.

"Brazil is accredited to lead the fight against climate change to reduce the minimum levels carbon emissions without jeopardizing economic growth expectations. If foreign policy is legitimized by a domestic practice of effective commitment to sustainable development, is ample space for innovative initiatives that are beneficial, including for regional integration.” Marina Silva

Below we present a summary of the proposed programs grouped according to subject. As explained above, the way the programs were presented is quite different and we hereby reflect these differences without making judgment about them. The excerpts below are reproduced from the programs. They do not represent 100% of the content of the programs, but rather the most significant sections to understand their environmental agenda.

On one hand this summary helps to show some parameters on how the candidates and their coalitions position themselves on the issues, it does not allow reaching an understanding of the general profile of each coalition. Unfortunately, the dynamics of power and political arrangements around specific sectors interests (like the agribusiness, religious groups and the mining industry) has been most decisive in the process of political decision-making than the commitments assumed with Brazilian society through the government programs.



"We achieve bold goals in our environmental policies. The exceptional results achieved by Brazil in the fight against illegal deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado assured the country the role of higher reducing emissions of greenhouse gases on the planet. After years of debate, we adopt, in 2013, the new Forest Code, which secured the foundations for more sustainable agricultural production and more legal certainty for producers. Also improved the environmental licensing mechanisms and regulations in advance the sustainable use of our biodiversity. "


"New tools and metrics should be established as a complement to GDP, contemplating other dimensions of contemporary citizens’ life style. The President shall assume leadership position on issues of sustainability, to ensure an effective horizontal dialogue at the federal level, with the engagement of states, municipalities, business sector and civil society. IT shall have a protagonist role in the coordination and articulation of social actors and economic agents involved in sustainable development, in conjunction with states and municipalities, and a leading role in referring these issues on the international agenda".

International and National Climate Agenda


1) We will maintain our commitment to reducing emissions, continuing to combat deforestation, especially in the Amazon.

2) We will accelerate the implementation of sectorial mitigation plans in alignment with the National Plan on Climate Change.

3) Brazil will engage strongly in international climate negotiations taking place in 2015, so their interests are involved in the establishment of global standards process.

4) We will strengthen the restructuration of productive chains towards a low carbon economy and focus on use of natural resources as the best form of preservation, particularly by traditional populations that occupy important regions in terms of biodiversity.


1) Coordinate and articulate social actors and agents

involved in sustainable economic development, in conjunction

with states and municipalities, and have a leading role in debates about these issues in the international agenda.

2) Special attention to the COP 21, to be held in 2015, ass well as the establishment of the Sustainable Development Objectives replacing the Millennium Development Goals.

2) Brazil should lead initiatives that protect the oceans.

3) Economics and Biodiversity Conservation through effective implementation

Conservation Units and expand them into biomes without adequate protection, with special attention to the marine environment, giving

implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, stroke in 2010, in Nagoya, Japan.

5) Brazil should expand and streamline its diplomatic action on global issues such as climate change, sustainability, energy, among others.



1) In the oil and gas, the most prominent result was the discovery of pre-salt.

2) Between 2003 and 2014, we resumed the construction of large hydroelectric plants.

3) The contribution of alternative sources for the integrated system, such as biomass, wind and solar power, increased from 240 MW to 3,101 MW. We created the National Biodiesel Program.

4) The expansion of the energy sector will occur in order to maintain the quality of our energy matrix, based on hydro and thermal power, clean renewable and low carbon emissions, and supplemented by alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass.


1) Definition of an energy matriix that addresses the various energy sources, thereby ensuring security of energy supply with low environmental impact.

2) Increase the participation of solar and wind energy in the Brazilian energy matrix.

3) Implementation of energy efficiency and energy conservation programs in all sectors.

4) Recovery of the importance and pioneering nature of Brazil in the production of clean and renewable energy.

5) clear definition of the role of anhydrous and hydrous ethanol in the fuel matrix.

6) Adoption of a tax policy that recognizes the environmental benefits of biofuels.

7) Encouraging the establishment of partnerships between Petrobras and private companies in the natural gas sector.

8) Invest in low-carbon technologies.

Agribusiness Agriculture and Family and Peasant


1) In the rural areas, 771.000 families had access to land through land reform, with access to credit. Between 2003 and 2013, 51 million hectares were incorporated by the agrarian reform program.


1) Support education and training of small farmers.

2) Create incentives for the production of organic farming as an alternative income in small holders.

3) Support technological innovation and democratization of access to sustainable production technologies, especially of agroecological base.

4) Encourage the deployment of rainwater capture and management systems, aiming at the development and expansion of family farming in semiarid areas.

5) Support measures to shorten distance between food production and consumption in order to avoid long distance transportation, causing emissions of greenhouse gases and rising prices of products to consumer.

6) Develop the Brazilian Map of Social Vulnerability to Climate Change and execution of the National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security.

7) Encourage research long focused on the family farm.

8) Support the creation of agroecology clusters, with the expansion of professional training.

9) Support the efforts of Embrapa in agroecology research.

10) Implementation of the Operational Guidelines for Basic Rural Education.

11) Recognition of the economic potential of traditional peoples extractive activities in the various biomes.

12) Acceleration of territories regularization, streamlining processes of demarcation and ensuring their physical protection as well as support the settlements.

13) Recognition of the essential role of self-consumption as a practice of family and peasant agriculture, and strategic contribution of women to food supply.

14) Provide incentives to agroecological fairs, to groups and consumer networks, and alliance with small retailers.

15) Opening the institutional market for family farms, especially the Food Acquisition Program (PAA) - and the National School Feeding Programme -PNAE.

16) Implementation of National Policy on Organic Production and Agroecology - PNAPO - from the National Plan - PLANAPO in order to integrate, coordinate and adapt policies, programs and actions inducing the transition to agroecological and organic and agroecological production base, which strongly contribute to sustainable development.



1) We will accelerate the implementation of the Rural Environmental Registry – CAR – A cornerstone of the new Forest Code.


1) Establishment of a robust policy of Payment for Environmental Services.

2) Implementation and management of protected areas as a tool for regional development.

3) Use of public-private partnerships as an instrument for financing Conservation Units and stimulating economic activities in its surroundings.

4) Implementation of a National Policy on Forests, with emphasis on recovery of the areas set out in the Forest Code, entered in Rural Environmental Registry – CAR - and listed in PRA - Program Environmental regularization.

5) Promotion of sustainable forest management of rainforests and implementation of an ambitious program of Planted Forests, targeting the expansion of forest-based industry.

6) Transition towards a Low Carbon Economy, with the adoption of measures aimed at reducing deforestation in the Amazon, Cerrado biomes and the adoption of economic instruments to stimulate low carbon agriculture, energy efficiency, Biodiversity, soil and water conservation.



1) The urban reform to improve the urban population life quality, which today represents 81% of Brazilians. This reform will face the challenge of addressing the housing deficit, the issue of urban mobility, sanitation and public safety. To continue expanding the Minha Casa Minha Vida (MCMV), we need to ensure the provision, in major cities, land to build home spaces.

2) Investments in urban mobility will seek to ensure fast, safe and efficient public transport..


1) Promote the reduction of solid waste generation and better management, with the extinction of the "dumps", promoting the reuse and recycling, in partnership with states and municipalities.

2) Encourage and create mechanisms for reuse of methane gas from landfills, providing efficient energy source.

3) Encourage the creation of consortia of municipalities, seeking economies of scale in waste management.

4) Adoption of macroeconomic tools which enables sustainable urban policies, such as sustainable public transport; sustainable buildings; deployment of green areas to avoid heat islands; use of solar energy in cities, allowing the sale of surplus.

5) Encourage the adoption of state, metropolitan and municipal policies relating to climate change, focusing on mitigation and adaptation.



1) Water security will be treated with priority, mobilizing shared and concatenated actions of the three spheres of government to the multiple needs of water use - human consumption, irrigation, hydropower, and other livestock - are taken into account in a rational and sustainable.

2) Investments in water security gained unprecedented scale in the last three years. More than R$ 32 billion in construction projects to ensure water supply in quantity and quality for people living in the semiarid region and other regions with water scarcity.

3) To ensure income to farming families, paid the Bolsa Estiagem for about one million families, and the Harvest Insurance to other 870.000 people. 930. 000 tonnes of maize were sold at subsidized prices to help feed the animals.

4) To support the continuity of small businesses, 511.000 operations were done by an emergency credit line, involving R$ 3.45 billion.

5) We will continue the investment efforts in water security to advance further in ensuring water supply, quality and regularity in historically water scarce regions.

6) Dedicate every effort to develop the technology needed to bring the ‘Light for All’ Program to isolated locations, with a goal of 137.000 houses between 2015 and 2018.


1) Stimulus to states, municipalities, businesses and other organizations of civil society in the production and reuse water for irrigation and industrial purposes.

2) Promotion and advocacy of awareness raising campaigns to fight against water waste, and encouraging the rational use of water in agricultural irrigation.

Urban Mobility


1) To improve conditions for urban population in large cities, primarily by reducing the time spent in daily journeys to work or to study, the Federal Government has secured R$ 143 billion of investment in urban mobility for states and municipalities.

With these features, important works are being undertaken and planned in all Brazilian regions. There are over 651 km of rail transport (metro, monorail, tram, train and Urban airmobile), 3188 km of transport under tires (BRT corridors) and 21 km of urban river transport.


1) Implementation of the National Policy on Urban Mobility, prioritizing public transport in Brazilian cities, making it a viable and practical alternative to individual transport.

2) Pursuit of sustainable mobility for Brazilian cities, through the integration of various modes of public transport in operation, continuation and acceleration of works in progress, calls for the expansion of the metropolitan areas and by encouraging the incorporation of innovations in the solutions already existing and to be implemented.

3) Support for innovation and creation of new technological solutions and the pursuit of funds for investment to PPP and concessions of urban operations.

4) Support states and municipalities in the implementation of integrated logistics centers, in seeking solutions to reduce heavy vehicle traffic in large cities, and deployment cycle of road systems in cities.

5) Encourage the adoption of policies by states, metropolitan and municipal entities related to climate change, focusing on mitigation and adaptation.

6) Encourage public transport, especially rail, allocating resources - including subsidized - the Federal Budget for structural works in the main urban centers of the country.

7) Support for new alternative modes of transportation, such as bike paths. Transfer the metropolitan rail network loads for the States for the implementation of projects for metropolitan trains

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