Press Release

October, 28 - 2021

Going against the world, Brazil increased emissions in the middle of the pandemic

Deforestation in the Amazon was mainly responsible for the 9.5% increase in greenhouse gases in 2020, indicate data from the Climate Observatory


Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 grew by 9.5 percent, while worldwide they plummeted by nearly 7 percent due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The rise in deforestation last year, especially in the Amazon, has put Brazil at the opposite direction of the planet and leaves it at a disadvantage in the Paris Agreement. It is the highest amount of emissions since 2006. With the increase in emissions and the 4.1% drop in GDP, Brazil became poorer and polluted more. 

The data comes from the new SEEG (Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimates System) estimate, from the Climate Observatory, which calculates every year how much climate pollution Brazil generated. In its ninth edition, released this Thursday (28), the SEEG calculated gross national emissions at 2.16 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (Gt CO2e) last year, compared to 1.97 billion in 2019. This is the country's highest level of emissions since 2006.

Discounting carbon removals by secondary forests and protected areas, the country's net emissions last year were 1.52 GtCO2e, up 14% from 2019, when they were 1.34 GtCO2e (see box). 

Of the five sectors of the economy that account for virtually all of Brazil's emissions, three were up, one was down, and one remained stable. 

The energy sector, which accounted for 18% of the country's emissions last year, had a sharp drop of 4.6%. This was in direct response to the pandemic, which in the first months of last year reduced passenger transport, industry output, and electricity generation. At 394 million tons of CO2e, the energy sector returned to 2011 emission levels.  

"The energy sector was the only one that showed a drop in emissions in 2020. This result is a clear reflection of the decrease in emitting activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic, when it was necessary for people to avoid moving around. Noteworthy is the decrease in emissions in passenger transport. Aviation fuel consumption has halved. The demand for gasoline and ethanol also decreased significantly", comments Felipe Barcellos, a researcher from Iema (Energy and Environment Institute), which estimates the emissions for the energy and industrial process sectors.

The emissions from agriculture and cattle-raising, which comprise 577 million tons of CO2e (27% of the national total) in 2020, also suffered an increase, of 2.5%. It is the highest increase since 2010 in a sector whose emissions in recent years have fluctuated little. This occurred partly for a counterintuitive reason: the economic crisis decreased meat consumption, with a reduction of almost 8% in the slaughter of cattle. The national herd grew by 3.2 million head, which, in turn, also increased methane emissions from enteric fermentation (the popular "cattle burp"). 

"The agricultural sector has reached the highest emission of greenhouse gases ever, even in a pandemic year. Although the growth of the implementation of low carbon agriculture techniques in Brazil is visible, including the fulfillment of a large part of the ABC Plan goals, this growth is still short of the necessary levels for us to see the trajectory of emissions in the sector being modified and demonstrate the real potential that Brazil has in having a sustainable and low carbon agriculture and cattle-raising", said Renata Potenza, project coordinator of Imaflora, the organization responsible for calculating emissions from agriculture and cattle-raising.

In the waste sector, the quarantine measures possibly (there are still uncertainties about the effect) increased emissions, mainly by the disposal of waste in landfills and dumps (since unofficial estimates indicate that the generation of municipal solid waste increased by about 10% in 2020) and domestic sewage, which in turn has a strong correlation with population. The growth in the sector was 1.8%, going from 90.4 million to 92 million tons of CO2e.  

"This sector was historically the one that grew faster in Brazil since 1970, following the population and urbanization. However, it accounts for the smallest slice of the total, contributing only 4% of the national emissions," says Iris Coluna, project analyst for ICLEI South America, which calculates the sector's emissions. 

The industrial processes, represented mainly by steel and cement manufacturing, highly emitting activities, remained stable in their emissions even in the pandemic. The sector hovered from 99.5 million to 99.7 million tons from 2019 to 2020, accounting for 5 percent of Brazil's total emissions.

To no one's surprise, the land use change sector was the one that pulled the curve up and made Brazil possibly the only major polluter on the planet to increase its emissions in the year the planet stopped. Represented mostly by deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado (which together make up almost 90% of the sector's emissions), land use change emitted 998 million tons of CO2e in 2020, an increase of 24% compared to 2019 (807 million).

In a scenario of dismantling environmental enforcement and lack of control over crimes such as land grabbing, mining and illegal logging in the Bolsonaro government, deforestation in the Amazon in 2020 suffered an expressive rise, reaching 10,851 square kilometers according to data from the Prodes/Inpe system. The SEEG uses in its estimates the data from the MapBiomas consortium, which also measures the cutting of secondary forests and uses a time series different from that of Inpe (MapBiomas considers January to December and not August to July, as does Prodes). However, the trend is similar in both systems. 

In the Amazon alone, emissions from changes in land use reached 782 million tons of CO2 equivalent last year. If the Brazilian forest were a country, it would be the ninth largest emitter in the world, ahead of Germany. Adding the Cerrado (113 million tons of CO2 e) to the bill, the two biomes emit more than Iran and would be the world's eighth emitter. 

"Land use change once again emerges as the main source of emissions in Brazil. Two thousand and twenty was the year that we had the highest emissions from the sector in 11 years, a clear reflection of the ongoing dismantling of environmental policy, which has favored the resumption of high rates of deforestation," said Ane Alencar, director of science at IPAM (Amazon Environmental Research Institute), the organization responsible for calculating the sector's emissions in the SEEG.

The lack of control over deforestation means that Brazil's emissions curve is still dominated by an activity that is mostly illegal and does not contribute to the GDP or to job creation. It also places a disproportionate weight on rural activities in terms of Brazilian emissions: adding the 27% of direct emissions from agriculture and cattle-raising to the emissions from deforestation, transport and waste treatment associated with the rural sector, agribusiness is responsible for almost three quarters (74%) of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions.


The SEEG also assessed compliance with the PNMC, the National Policy on Climate Change law. Enacted in 2009, the law required the country to cut its emissions by 36.1% to 38.9% by 2020 in relation to a projected scenario with very generous assumptions (such as GDP growth of 5% per year). According to these criteria, the country's gross emissions in 2020, calculated according to the guidelines of AR2, the Second Assessment Report of the IPCC (the UN's climate panel), should be at least 1.977 GtCO2e and at most 2.068 GtCO2e. Converting the gross emissions to the AR2 factors, the SEEG calculated the 2020 figure to be 2.047 GtCO2e. So Brazil has met the target at its least ambitious limit, with 1% "slack".

This is bittersweet news. "Although the country has met the target in the aggregate, and has also met most of the targets of the Low Carbon Agriculture Plan, the behavior of our emissions has not changed since the PNMC regulation in 2010," says Tasso Azevedo, SEEG coordinator. He recalls that the main goal of the PNMC, the 80% reduction in the rate of devastation of the Amazon, was very far from being met: the target for 2020 was 3,925 km2 and deforestation was 10,851 km2, 176% higher. "In relation to 2010, when the PNMC target was set, Brazilian emissions increased 23%. We continue with deforestation dominating our gross emissions and, what's worse, with an upward trend in emissions in the year when we should start meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement."

"Those who plant environmental dismantling reap carbon dioxide," said Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the OC. "Brazil achieved the feat of being perhaps the only major emitter that polluted the most during the first year of the pandemic. The SEEG data confirm that the forest destroyers, lulled by Jair Bolsonaro's environmental anti-politics, did not do home office. It's another blow to the international image of the country, which will arrive completely discredited in Glasgow next week for COP26."


Although it gives preference to reporting gross emissions, the SEEG also estimates Brazil's so-called net emissions, which consider CO2 removals from the atmosphere due to land use changes (for example, the growth of secondary forests in place of pastures) and to the maintenance of forests in indigenous areas and conservation units. The federal government prefers to report net emissions to the United Nations. In the context of an economy moving towards "zero net emission" in 2050, which is what is desired for Brazil, the role of carbon removals, especially by forests in recovery or regeneration, should be increasingly considered.

The Climate Observatory understands, however, that although this "discount" in the accounting of protected areas is authorized by the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), reporting gross emissions instead is more appropriate due to the peculiarities of the methodology for calculating removals in the Brazilian inventory, which ends up not representing the reality of the trend of removals in the country, which have been reducing as indigenous lands and conservation units are invaded and deforested. 

Considering removals, Brazil's net emissions were 1.52 GtCO2e, which represented a 14% increase from 2019, when they were 1.34 GtCO2e. Net emissions peaked in 2003, when they reached 2.65 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Since 2010, when the PNMC was regulated, Brazil has increased its net emissions by 28% - a proportionally greater increase than gross emissions. This phenomenon occurs because emissions have increased faster than removals.

About the Climate Observatory: a network formed in 2002, composed of 71 non-governmental organizations and social movements. It acts to advance dialogue, public policies and decision-making processes on climate change in the country and globally. Website:

About the SEEG: The System of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimates was created in 2012 to meet a determination of the PNMC (National Policy on Climate Change). The decree regulating the PNMC established that the country should produce annual emission estimates in order to monitor the implementation of the policy. The government, however, has not produced them. The national inventories, a fundamental instrument to know in detail the country's emissions profile, are published only every five years.

The SEEG ( was the first national initiative to produce annual economy-wide estimates. Launched in 2012 and incorporated into the Climate Observatory the following year, it is one of the largest national databases on greenhouse gas emissions in the world, comprising Brazilian emissions from five sectors (Agriculture and Livestock, Energy, Industrial Processes, Waste and Land Use Change).

The estimates are generated according to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) guidelines, based on the Brazilian Inventories of Anthropogenic Emissions and Removals of Greenhouse Gases, from the MCTIC (Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications).

The SEEG Municipalities had the participation of researchers from NGOs: Ipam and Imazon (Land Use Change), Imaflora (Agriculture and Livestock), Iema (Energy and Industrial Processes) and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability (Waste).

Information for the press

Solange A. Barreira                           Claudio Angelo             

+ 55 11 9 8108-7272                          +55 61 9 9825-4783


march, 04 - 2021

Amazon municipalities dominate carbon emissions

Seven of the ten largest emitters in the country are in the North, shows the country's first municipal mapping of greenhouse gases.

The ten municipalities that are champions of greenhouse gases (GHG) in Brazil together emit 172 million gross tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). It is more than whole countries like Peru, Belgium or the Philippines. And seven of these big emitters are in the Amazon, where deforestation is the main source of emissions. This is what the first edition of SEEG Municipalities reveals, an unprecedented initiative by the Climate Observatory.

SEEG calculated greenhouse gas emissions from all 5,570 Brazilian municipalities. The survey covers every year from 2000 to 2018 and is detailed for more than a hundred sources of emissions in the sectors of energy, transport, industry, agriculture, waste treatment and changes in land use and forests.

This is the first time that emissions have been seen at the municipal level, and the first time that such a survey has been carried out for a large country. The aim is to increase the knowledge of mayors, city councils and local society across the country about the dynamics of emissions and provide a tool for the development of municipal development policies with carbon reduction.

The municipality that most emits in Brazil is São Félix do Xingu (PA), with 29.7 million gross tons of CO2e in 2018. Of this total, changes in land use, mostly resulting from deforestation, account for 25 , 44 million tons, followed by agriculture, with 4.22 million tons of CO2e, emitted mainly by the digestion of the bovine herd. The municipality of Pará has the largest number of heads in the country.

If it were a country, São Félix do Xingu would be the 111th in the world in emissions, ahead of Uruguay, Norway, Chile, Croatia, Costa Rica and Panama, according to data from Cait, the global emissions ranking of the World Resources Institute.

Deforestation also triggers emissions per capita in Amazonian municipalities. Each resident of São Félix do Xingu, for example, emits 225 tons of CO2e per year, almost 22 times more than the average gross emissions per capita in Brazil, 12 times more than that of the United States and six times more than that of Qatar , the country with the highest emission per capita in the world. Even worse is Colniza, in northwest Mato Grosso: sixth largest emitter in the country, with 14.3 million tons of CO2e emitted in 2018, Colniza has the highest gross per capita emission in Brazil: 358 tons. It is as if each inhabitant of the municipality had more than 300 cars running 20 kilometers a day.

On the other hand, and this is good news from the survey, extensive Amazonian municipalities with many protected areas also have major removals of greenhouse gases. This reduces so-called net emissions. The removal champion is Altamira, the largest municipality in Brazil by area, which has removals of more than 22 million tons of CO2e. São Félix do Xingu has removals of 10 million tons.

Of the ten municipalities that are champions of gross emission in the country, only three are outside the Amazon: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Serra, in Espírito Santo. The energy sector, especially transportation, stands out as the main emission factor in large cities, especially capital cities. Serra, which houses a steel mill, has its emissions mainly through industrial processes.

Oil refining and processing increase these emissions in cities like Manaus and Rio de Janeiro. And fossil thermal power plants greatly increase emissions in the cities that house them. The most striking example is Capivari de Baixo, in Santa Catarina. The municipality is home to a set of coal-fired power plants, the Jorge Lacerda complex, built in the 1960s and which has three plants, with an installed capacity of 857 megawatts. Capivari de Baixo is the largest emitter in Brazil by area: it emits 85,633 tons of CO2 per km2.

Waste treatment, although accounting for only 4% of Brazil's gross emissions, is an important source of emissions for cities - especially the most populous. Rio leads this sector, with 5.6 million tons, followed by São Paulo, which, despite having twice the population, emits 5.45 million tons, due to the greater efficiency in the treatment of garbage and the capture of methane to generate energy in landfills.

"Until today, less than 5% of Brazilian municipalities had an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. Now everyone will have the data for a 20-year series and we hope that this will serve as a stimulus to promote local development with reduced emissions and coping. climate change ", explains Tasso Azevedo, general coordinator of SEEG. "As the data is made available openly and free of charge, it also means a huge saving of public resources, which can be focused on actions to reduce emissions", he adds.

See interactive charts with SEEG Municipalities data here. The complete data will be available from Thursday on the platform Following are other highlights from SEEG Municipalities.

Agriculture Sector

  • In 2018, the sector was the largest source of GHG emissions in 65.8% of Brazilian municipalities, a total of 3,666 municipalities.
    Municipalities located in the states of Mato Grosso, Pará and Mato Grosso do Sul are among the 20 municipalities that most emitted by the agricultural sector in 2018, for having the largest cattle herds.
  • The municipalities in the South region are the ones that lead the agricultural and livestock emissions by area, due to the small territorial extension.
  • The municipalities of the Midwest region lead the emissions per inhabitant in the agricultural sector, due to the sector's appeal in the region and to be less populous.

Energy Sectors and Industrial Processes

  • São Paulo leads the energy sector, with 12.4 million tons, followed by Manaus (6.2 million tons) and Rio de Janeiro (6 million tons).
  • More populous municipalities, such as capital cities, have their main source of emissions in the Energy sector, mainly due to the consumption of fossil fuels (diesel and gasoline) in transport.
  • In industrial processes, Serra (ES) leads easily, with 10.4 million tons, followed by Vespasiano (MG), 2 million tons, and Sete Lagoas (MG), 1 million tons.
  • Excluding land use changes, the energy and industrial processes sectors are responsible for most of the emissions from 9 of the top 10 emitters.
  • Fuel refining increases emissions in municipalities such as Duque de Caxias, Paulínia and São José dos Campos, respectively the 6th, 13th and 14th largest emitters in the country when excluding land use change.
    Fossil thermoelectric plants are the main emission factors in Manaus (49%), Duque de Caxias, RJ (45%), Capivari de Baixo, SC (98%), São Gonçalo do Amarante, CE (95%), Santo Antônio dos Lopes, MA (95%), Macaé, RJ (82%) and Candiota, RS (95%).
  • The industrial process sector is marked by the scarcity of activity data that allow more accurate estimates of its associated emissions.
  • Florianópolis is the capital of the engine: 62% of the municipality's emissions come from transport. Just below the list, tied, are Brasília and Curitiba, with 59%.

Waste Sector

  • Brazilian capitals and municipalities with more than 1 million inhabitants are responsible for about 30% of all emissions in the sector.
  • Rio de Janeiro leads, with 5.6 million tons, followed by São Paulo (5.45 million tons) and Fortaleza (1.8 million tons).
    The main source of emission in the sector is the final disposal of solid waste in landfills, controlled or dumps (64% of the sector's emissions) and this is replicated in 60% of Brazilian municipalities.
  • In municipalities where the final disposal is not the main source of emissions, the emissions associated with the treatment of liquid effluents, both domestic and industrial, stand out.

Land Use Change (MUT) and Forests Sector

  • The largest national emitters (gross emissions) are in the Amazon, mainly in the State of Pará.
  • Large municipalities in area (9 of the 10 largest) in the Amazon, in Pará and Amazonas, and with a large proportion of protected areas and forest area present the largest gross removals.
  • Some of the smallest municipalities in the Amazon (<140 thousand hectares) are the largest emitters per area in this sector.
  • In the Cerrado, among the largest emitters are the municipalities in the region of agricultural expansion in Matopiba (agricultural frontier between Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí and Bahia).

About the Climate Observatory: network formed in 2002, composed of 63 non-governmental organizations and social movements. It acts for the progress of dialogue, public policies and decision-making processes on climate change in the country and globally. Website:

About SEEG: The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimation System was created in 2012 to comply with a PNMC (National Policy on Climate Change) determination. The decree that regulates the PNMC established that the country should produce annual emission estimates, in order to monitor the implementation of the policy. The government, however, did not produce them. National inventories, fundamental instruments for getting to know the country's emissions profile in detail, are published only every five years.

SEEG ( was the first national initiative to produce annual estimates for the entire economy. Launched in 2012 and incorporated into the Climate Observatory the following year, it is one of the largest national databases on greenhouse gas emissions in the world, comprising Brazilian emissions from five sectors (Agriculture, Energy, Industrial Processes, Waste and Change in Use of Earth).

The estimates are generated according to the guidelines of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), based on the Brazilian Inventories of Anthropogenic Emissions and Removal of Greenhouse Gases, from the MCTIC (Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications).

Researchers from the NGOs worked at SEEG Municipalities: Ipam and Imazon (Land Use Change), Imaflora (Agropecuária), Iema (Energy and Industrial Processes) and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability (Waste).

Press information

Solange A. Barreira                           Claudio Angelo             

+ 55 11 9 8108-7272                          +55 61 9 9825-4783