Brazil proves it is possible: A country can be a laboratory for ideas about creating a future that protects, respects, and restores the environment, while meeting the needs of the prospering masses. The environmentally savvy population, business community, and policy leaders can lead by example as Brazil “leapfrogs” directly to technologies that make the most of precious natural resources.
The concept of leapfrogging is fitting here; it was popularized by Brazilian physicist and leading climate thinker Jose Goldemberg, who early on saw that developing nations could leap over polluting and wasteful legacy technologies directly to clean energy and efficient infrastructure.
Brazil provides some classic examples of this concept in action such as its fleet of flexible-fuel cars that can be filled with a mix of gasoline and sustainable biofuel that uses sugar cane as feedstock. Meanwhile, the country generates almost 90% of its electricity from renewable sources, mostly hydropower and biomass.
Of course, Brazil still faces environmental challenges. The country has made great strides in limiting deforestation, but is advancing technological solutions to end the practice altogether. Likewise, the country is increasingly faced with the broader impacts of energy development, including the building of new hydroelectric power.