Introductory Nexus Data

A few facts about the Brazilian Energy-Water-Food Nexus

Climate change, according to current models

Figure 1: Changes in rainfall (a) and average temperatures (b) for different scenarios of climate change. The left columns refer to scenario RCP2.6, in which emissions are reduced worldwide and global average temperatures are kept below 2 degrees C. The columns to the right refer to scenario RCP8.5 in which emissions remain high and global average temperatures are allowed to reach between 3 and 5 degrees C. The top graphs refer to June-July-August while the bottom graphs refer to December-January-February. Rainfall changes are expressed in % of the current value; temperature changes are expressed in degrees Celsius. In scenarios of high emissions, temperature changes of up to 6oC are expected over the Amazonian region, and rainfall changes of +60% and -40% are expected in North-Eastern and Southern Brazil, respectively. These changes are likely to lead to radical changes in vegetation and land cover, including desertification. CMIP5 data obtained through the KNMI Climate Explorer.

Figure 2: (a) Current share of total exports made of agricultural products and food by country (33% for Brazil). (b) Total exports made of agricultural products and food, normalised to 2010. (c) Employment devoted to agriculture and food production, normalised to 2010. Data from Eurostat, OECD, national statistics, Asian Dev. Bank, UN prodcom. Differences between panels a and b stem from whether exports are accounted for in constant or current prices.

Figure 3: (Left) Historical global demand for liquid and gaseous biofuel demand. (Right) Global historical fuel final demand. Final demand refers to what is used, which is less than what is produced, the difference stemming from transformation process efficiencies. Units are in Exa Joules (10^18 Joules). Liquid fossil fuels are primarily used for transport applications (road, rail, air, water). Data from the International Energy Agency (World Energy Balances, 2017).

Figure 4: Production of liquid biofuels around the globe. a) Ethanol, produced out of fermenting sugar-rich crops (e.g. sugarcane, sugar beet, maize). b) Biodiesel, made from transforming oil-rich crops (e.g. palm oil, rapeseed oil, soybean oil). Brazil is an important player for both, using sugarcane for Ethanol and soybeans for biodiesel. Data from the International Energy Agency (World Energy Balances, 2017).

Figure 5: Production of different types of meat (beef, pork and chicken) around the globe. Data from FAOSTAT 2017.

Figure 6: Case study of the production of soybeans in Brazil. Soybeans are produced in various areas in Brazil, notably in the Cerrado, where large areas are used. The soybeans are primarily exported to China, where they are processed to separate them into soybean oil and soybean meal. The meal is used for feeding animals, notably pork in China, but also cattle and poultry in China and elsewhere. Exports of this very lucrative crop from Brazil to China has increased steeply in recent years. Data from FAOSTAT 2017.

Figure 7: Possible changes in land productivity with climate change for various crops (maize, soy and sugarcane) in Brazil. The first column refers to the present day absolute productivity, in tonnes per hectare. The second column shows productivity in a scenario in which climate change is avoided (RCP2). The third column shows productivity for a scenario in which climate change takes place (RCP8). Data from the LPJml model simulation of plant growth on the planet surface, provided by scientists at the Postdam Institute for Climate Research.

NOTE: All graphs made by the BRIDGE team, coordinated by J-F Mercure (Radboud University). Contact J-F M. for information. Data is available only under agreements from the various data providers (for some datasets e.g. the IEA, we have paid subscriptions and therefore are not allowed by the data sources to provide the data). FAOSTAT and KNMI data are freely available.