Evolving Energy and Land Use in Brazil and Mexico


Brazil and Mexico, the two largest Latin American economies, have both announced intentions to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. In a basic research effort to better understand the heterogeneous nature of emissions pathways from seemingly similar economies, including dependencies to infrastructure, natural resources, and land use and land cover, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change explored a menu of energy and land-use scenarios in Mexico and Brazil. The MIT researchers used the Department of Energy-supported Emissions Prediction and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model to map the changing structure of energy supply and demand under each scenario. Researchers found that the scenarios have substantially different impacts on the economies and energy systems of the two countries due to the different sources of emissions in each nation. In Mexico, the lion’s share of emissions come from fossil energy production; Brazil’s energy system relies more on hydropower and bioenergy, so agriculture is the largest source of emissions. Researchers found that Mexico’s energy mix will shift as new, advanced low-carbon energy technologies such as natural gas and coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS) are deployed to meet the scenarios. Since Brazil has a clean energy mix to start with, reducing carbon emissions from electricity generation is more difficult, so most emissions reductions will come from agriculture. This analysis underscores how efforts to reduce carbon emissions can produce different effects at the national level, even among countries that share the same level of development.


Octaviano, C., S. Paltsev, and A. C. Gurgel. 2015. “Climate Change Policy in Brazil and Mexico: Results from the MIT EPPA Model,” Energy Economics, DOI: 10.1016/j.eneco.2015.04.007.