OPINION: On paper, Brazil is a model economy when it comes to clean energy, with renewables occupying about three-quarters of its energy matrix.
Hydroelectric power became a vehicle for economic development in the post-war years, then the country responded to the oil shocks of the 1970s with a framework of state support for a sugarcane-based biofuel programme that, although mismanaged, is still in place.
Brazilians have long been used to motoring with a compulsory ethanol blend in their gasoline and — with the advent of hybrid cars — can now choose to run on pure ethanol when prices are favourable.
Drought and a narrowing scope for new hydroelectric projects have spurred investment in gas-fired thermoelectric stations in recent decades, but propitious conditions for onshore wind and solar power have also drawn in significant investment.
Unfortunately, the current administration prefers to brandish a track record rooted in the past to fend off criticism on issues such as deforestation, rather than push the country into a new era.
Brazil is right to get the best value it can out of its offshore oil and gas reserves, but it needs to create new regulatory frameworks and laws to take advantage of its natural resources in new and more sustainable ways.
Offshore wind, carbon capture and storage and hydrogen all have huge potential in Brazil, but need the kind of government impetus given to a recently approved gas law.
President Jair Bolsonaro's record on the environment is lamentable. Can energy transition wake him to the responsibilities that his country bears?
(This is an Upstream opinion article.)