Brazil’s most polluting cities are in the Amazon

Vista aérea da floresta amazônica no Brasil/ Shutterstock/ photo: worldclassphoto

Altamira in the Amazon, more specifically in the state of Pará, is the Brazilian city which releases the most greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per capita, according to new research released Monday by the Climate Observatory environmental organization.

The System for Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Removal project, known as SEEG Municípios, calculates the GHG emissions of Brazilian cities across five areas: agriculture and livestock, land-use change and forestry, energy, waste, and industrial processes and product use.

The project finds that eight of Brazil’s top 10 emitting cities are located in the Amazon, where emissions are driven by deforestation. Altamira emitted 35.2 million tons of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2019, the year the report looks at – of this total, 33.5 MtCO2e were due to land-use change and forestry.   

As a point of comparison, São Paulo – Brazil’s largest city, ranked fifth for overall GHG emissions – emitted 16.8 MtCO2e overall in 2019, largely due to energy (11.0 MtCO2e) and waste (4.6 MtCO2e). Brazil’s second-largest city, Rio de Janeiro is the only other non-Amazon municipality amongst the country’s top 10 emitting cities (ranked eighth).

Tasso Azevedo, the general coordinator of the SEEG project, said this latest research confirms that local emissions reduction policies are necessary if there is any hope of Brazil meeting its emissions targets and contributing towards efforts of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.