domingo, 10 de abril de 2011

Brazil's Energy Offerings: Too Many Choices or Calm Before the Storm?

Until very, very recently Brazil was being heralded as the world's first green super power. Not more than week ago ex Governador of California Arnold Schwarzenegger and ex President of the United States reiterated that hope during an environmental economic summit in Manaus, Brazil, capital of the prosperous northern state of Amazonas.   
However the combined effect of global events during the last few weeks have yet to catch up with the idealistic circus of globetrotting environmentalists and eco-wannabes personified internationally by film director James Cameron and domestically by ex Governador of Amazonas Eduardo Braga. Away from the glare of stage lights and camera flashes Brazil may actually be adopting the same capitalist and "business-as-usual" position of other developing global superpowers (strong economically and weak politically).
To begin with the situation in Libya threatens traditional oil supplies from the strife-ridden Middle East. (How often have we been warned about this eventuality?) And the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in Japan- believe it or not- sounds the death knoll for clean, unlimited and, until Fujiwara, “safe” nuclear energy.
In Brazil the emphasis seems to suddenly be more on deep-sea oil deposits and controversial hydroelectric projects than on anything remotely green anymore. The price of ethanol (from sugar cane in Brazil) is the same as gasoline -and that's 4x what it costs in the USA who import their oil from the distant, volatile Middle Eastern cartels- because Brazil is having to import ethanol (from corn in the USA) to produce enough biodiesel for their own domestic market. In the blink of an eye Brazil’s position as a net exporter of biodiesel and potential leader of a global green revolution can only now be  questioned.
Brazil seems to be reverting back to a "business-as-usual" policy in response to immediate demands and present opportunities. The Latin American powerhouse is, after all, already self-sufficient in oil so the so-called “presal” offshore deposits will likely be snapped up by the USA as a stopgap against continuing and future shortages in the Middle East. Hydroelectric projects in Brazil’s vast interior can only gain added support as the country’s nuclear program undergoes premature revision and probable reconsideration.
In a sense it’s almost too bad Brazil has so many choices. They can’t seem to make up their minds. One thing’s for certain though- there's no internal pressure whatsoever on President Dilma Rouseff to listen to the hype of “where have you guys been” unemployed Hollywood titans or Washington exes. Dilma knows what they're saying “is right” but without the sense of urgency most of the rest of the world is currently experiencing regarding energy supplies she might just never get around to doing what “is right”.