Brazil Election 2022: Forecasting impact for the environment

The Brazil election 2022 puts forth many plans for the environment – and companies should brace for impact. Here’s a look at what to expect from the 4 top candidates. 

by Isabella Brozinga Zandonadi

The Brazil election 2022 will occur on October 2nd, when the country will choose its following legislative representatives and president. Yet the final presidential choice will have a longerterm impact, influencing how environmental regulations will be pursued federally next year. We dive into the 4 highest ranking candidates in the opinion polls – and what companies can expect should they be elected

Brazil election 2022: Laying down the law on environmental issues

Globally, when it comes to presidential elections, establishing stricter environmental regulations and sustainability measures has been an essential topic. The campaigns we’ve seen leading up to the Brazil election 2022 are no different. Out of 12 registered presidential candidates, all have at least 1 proposition for environmental policy changes. 

And while the 4 most-popular candidates Ciro Ferreira Gomes, Jair Messias Bolsonaro, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and Simone Nassar Tebet are all similar in their goal to prioritize the environmental agenda, their plans and impact on companies have many differences. 

Jair Bolsonaro approach: Making sustainability compatible with agribusiness

Let’s start with current president: Jair Bolsonaro (PL) – who is trying to obtain reelection with a stronger focus on the environment for the Brazil election 2022. During his past years in office, he’s faced several criticisms from environmentalists, foreign governments, and institutions that his office has weakened environmental protection mechanisms and allowed deforestation rates to increase significantly. This election, his plan establishes goals, such as promoting the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, reconciling the preservation of the environment with economic and social development, develop clean energy technologies and a green economy. 

Bolsonaro’s plan offers measures to achieve its goals, including to: 

  • offer Green Bonds to finance sustainable investments 
  • advance the carbon market policies in Brazil 
  • promote renewable energy policies, such as offshore power policies 
  • protect the forest and indigenous peoples in Brazil 

Bolsonaro’s plan mainly promotes advancing Brazil’s renewable energy sources and creating more air emission requirements. While it also cites environmental protection, it doesn’t present as clear measures for it. This approach is compatible with Bolsonaro’s current government, which stimulated agribusiness growth while decreasing actions and policy measures – presenting the most considerable deforestation and indigenous killings in the past decade. 

What it could mean for your company: If elected, Bolsonaro can be expected to focus on economic growth. Look for market incentives and policies such as offering Green Bonds. 

This means that, if any of these 4 is elected … the Brazilian carbon market could finally take off.

Ciro Gomes’ approach: A National Development Plan for the environment

Presidential candidate Ciro Gomes (PDT) centers his plan on the National Development Project (PND). He claims the PND can project the country into better standing in the coming decades. Regarding the environment, this plan aims to reduce deforestation and the emission of polluting gases while enabling sustainable economic growth.  

To fulfill these objectives, the candidate presents measures such as to: 

  • establish economic and ecological zoning of the country’s territories 
  • stimulate new technological and scientific research to find new products and production means that preserve the forest but allow its sustainable management 
  • use Petrobras as the leading authority for developing Brazil’s renewable energy sources; and 
  • stop using thermoelectric energy by 2030. 

Throughout his public life, Ciro Gomes has established education as his main political agenda with the PND. So, environmental law is set in his Brazil election 2022 campaign as a complementary subject to the plan and retaliation to the current president’s environmental stands.  

What it could mean for your company: Companies can expect incentives for research and technology for sustainable practices and the restructuring of government institutions for sustainable economic growth and environmental protection. 

Lula’s approach: Combining social and environmental sustainability

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) was once the president of Brazil for two terms and known for social programs, such as Bolsa Família and Fome Zero, implemented while he was in office. Again, during his Brazil election 2022 campaign, social issues are the focus. Lula’s plan puts forward objectives committing to social, environmental, and economic sustainability, confronting climate change, and fighting predatory use of natural resources – all while encouraging economic activities with less ecological impact 

Lula presents measures to achieve these goals, such as to: 

  • advance the emergence of an inclusive green economy based on the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of biodiversity, fulfilling Brazil’s international commitment to reduce carbon emissions and transition to renewable energy 
  • recover state capacities and strengthen federal environmental agencies 
  • expand international trade agreements relevant to Brazilian development, investing in scientific and technological research and environmental protection, and industrial and commercial use of Brazil’s competitive advantages, such as the biodiversity of the Amazon 
  • fight against environmental crimes and illegal deforestation practices while promoting restoration of degraded areas and reforestation of biomes. 

This candidate also presents the environmental agenda as complementary to the sustainability commitment in his government plan. While social and economic issues are his main targets, the plan emphasizes promoting sustainable use of natural resources and the current government’s environmental disapprovals, such as refraining from illegal deforestation. 

What it could mean for your company: If Lula is elected, companies can expect environmental economic incentives on one hand yet more stringent inspections to fulfill sustainable practices on the other. 

Simone Tebet’s approach: Including the sustainability agenda in every government policy

Simone Tebet (MDB)’s government plan in the Brazil election 2022 presents a green economy and sustainable development as one of its central pillars. The plan establishes as objectives: sustainability as a practice included in all the government’s policies and striving to a zero illegal deforestation policy.  

To fulfill these objectives, the candidate presents several measures and future goals in the second chapter of the plan, including to: 

  • recover the mechanisms of inspection, punishment, command, and control, strengthening federal bodies such as ICMBio, Ibama, and Inpe 
  • create, together with the judicial system, national registers of companies, projects, and people that promote deforestation, land invasion, illegal mining, and illegal greenhouse gas emissions, along the lines of the “Dirty List” of employers who submit workers to conditions analogous to slavery 
  • organizing and regulate the national carbon market to reduce, offset, and mitigate emissions 
  • advance the renewable energy transition to a more affordable, competitive, and cleaner energy matrix. 

Tebet also presents her “green economy” objective throughout the government plan, not only inside the sustainable development chapter but also differently from the candidates mentioned. Her approach suggests that the environmental agenda will be essential should she be elected and, according to previous statements, she’ll need to prioritize revoking the current president’s environmental decree. Although she’s made the environmental agenda central to her approach, Tebet also intersects it with the economic agenda, meaning that the promised measures will relate to economic growth rather than social improvements.  

What it could mean for your company: With Tebet as president, we could see federal economic incentives for sustainable practices in companies. Yet at the same time companies should prepare to see many regulations and requirements in tandem. 

Commonalities across the Brazil election 2022: Carbon emissions and renewable energy

The Brazil election 2022 campaigns set the stage for many future environmental goals, but we see 2 of the most relevant – and prominent – in each of these 4 candidate’s government plans are reducing carbon emissions and advancing renewable energy use. 

Every candidate mentions the development of air emissions requirements in their government plan. The target for all is advancing the established carbon market by putting in place technical policies. This means that, if any of these 4 is elected, the air emissions policies will most likely develop further, and the Brazilian carbon market could finally take off. 

Renewable energy sources is also a common theme – yet with more variety in the candidates’ approaches. Some candidates suggest policies such as Bolsonaro’s plan to propose offshore power policies and Ciro Gomes’ and Lula’s plans to transform Petrobras into a renewable energy company developer. While Simone Tebet mentions the country’s potential to produce renewable energy and proposes to accelerate the transition to clean energy sources. 

What’s next after the Brazil election 2022?

In general, the 4 front-running Brazil election 2022 candidates have firmly built their plans on an environmental agenda. Even though not all that is put forward will be implemented, the plans still represent how relevant that agenda is and that future policy will reflect it. Whether combining environmental goals with economic growth, adding a social target to the green economy, introducing market incentives, or restructuring institutions … the direction for companies operating in Brazil is clear: The country is headed for huge changes to how it protects the environment, and your facilities will need to follow. Watch this space for updates on the election and what comes after. 


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