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Energy and foreign policy

In a world marked by the unequal distribution of energy resources, access to energy is a central issue in national economies, representing an important strategic aspect to be taken into account in the formulation of foreign policy. The way each country produces, supplies and consumes energy directly affects safety, social and economic development and the environment on a global level.

Energy access for the whole population, increasing demand for investments in renewable and non-renewable energy sources, as well as environmental concerns and international energy trade unveil geopolitical aspects that are important for Brazil. The Pre-salt and Brazilian leadership in renewable energy sources, such as bioenergy and hydroelectricity, are credentials that reinforce the role of Brazil in this area.


Renewable Energy

In face of global sustainable development challenges and climate change, the search for alternatives to fossil fuels is mainly aimed at the development of less polluting sources of energy. In addition, it is necessary to ensure energy security, as well as promote sustainable socioeconomic development. It is estimated that the use of renewable energy sources will increase worldwide, creating opportunities for pioneer countries in this area.

Brazil is a pioneer in the research, development and use of renewable energy resources. Currently, the share of renewables in the national energy mix is around 42% – as opposed to the world average of 16.7%. These features represent an essential comparative advantage, highlighting Brazil's role in the field.


Objectives of the Foreign Policy on Renewable Energy

Coordinated action at the international level, with the aim of exploring synergies, always in compliance with the country´s national capacity and interest, helps to consolidate Brazil's position as a major player in the global energy system and is guided by the imperative of promoting sustainable development in the country.

Brazil's foreign policy in the area of renewable energy sources is mainly guided by the following goals:

  • promoting partnerships and cooperation, especially in the South-South sphere, with the objective of attending to countries´ specific needs regarding the broadening of energy access in the interest of socioeconomic development. 
  • promoting the use of accessible and technologically consolidated energy sources, including bioenergy and hydroelectricity;
  • increasing the share of sustainable production of bioenergy, especially biofuels in the world’s energy mix; and
  • promoting regional energy integration, based on sustainable development principles.

In order to increase the sustainable use of biofuels, Brazil works in coordination with its main international partners in major international forums. Through engaged multilateral action, Brazil participates in the discussions about policies on renewable energy sources, while, at the same time, diversifying regional and international partnerships in the field.

Regional energy integration helps maximize energy security and promote development in South America. In order to achieve it, Brazil and neighboring countries are coordinating joint efforts, including:

  • identifying complementary renewable energy sources among those available in the region;
  • identifying areas that have great potential for exploration as well as areas with repressed demand due to lack of resources;
  • supporting economically feasible projects and offer lines of credit for developing renewable energy generation and transmission projects; and
  • establishing normative compatibility for energy exchange in the region.


Main themes of the Division of New and Renewable Energetic Resources (DRN)

Brazil has acted in different fronts to promote the sustainable production and use of bioenergy. In the multilateral sphere, Brazilian role in forums, such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP), must be highlighted. Since 2008, Brazil is GBEP's co-chair alongside with Italy. Created in 2006, in the context of the G8 Gleneagles Plan of Action on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development, GBEP brings together 37 members and 37 observers – including countries, international organizations and a diverse range of institutions – , consolidating its position as a privileged forum for discussion on bioenergy sustainability. Currently, Brazil's activity in GBEP focuses on capacity-building in sustainable bioenergy. At ISO, Brazil works to facilitate the international trade of biofuels.

In the context of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, launched in 2010 by the United Nations Secretary-General, Brazil works in partnership with other developing countries. The large share of renewable energy sources in the Brazilian energy mix and national programs that aim to promote universal access to energy – as in the case of the Programa Luz para Todos (Light for All Program) –, are considered examples within the goals established in the context of the SE4ALL by the year 2030:

  • doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix;
  • doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and
  • ensuring universal access to modern energy services.

Cooperation within MERCOSUR and IBSA (India – Brazil – South Africa) are highlights of Brazil´s South-South cooperation. In the context of IBSA, the partnership is supported by three documents: Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of a Trilateral Task Team on Biofuels (2008); Memorandum of Understanding on the Cooperation in Wind Resources (2009); and Memorandum of Understanding on Solar Energy (2010). In the MERCOSUR, the Biofuels Ad Hoc Group, created in 2007 by decision of the Common Market Council, promotes cooperation in biofuels with the aim of harmonizing technical requirements and standards.

For the sustainable production of biofuels, an important tool is the conduction of feasibility studies for the sustainable production of biofuels, carried out in African and Central American countries, as a result of bilateral, trilateral or regional cooperation initiatives. Currently, the Brazilian National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) is financing feasibility studies on sustainable biofuel production in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) countries.

Brazil believes that sustainable production of biofuels can be an important driver for sustainable development, because it leads to income generation in rural areas, reduction in the dependence on fossil fuels imports, introduction of technologies in agriculture and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.

In the bilateral sphere, the Brazilian Government has prioritized agreements promoting cooperation in the energy field, such as the Dialogue on Energy Policy between Brazil and the European Union and the Brazil-United States Strategic Energy Dialogue, as well as the Memorandum of Understanding between Brazil and the United States to Advance Cooperation in Biofuels. Likewise, there are several bilateral initiatives with South American countries to promote regional energy cooperation.


Non Renewable Energy Resources

Brazil is a world leader in deep water oil and gas exploration and production. The Pre-Salt area – which holds the largest reserves discovered in the world in recent years - will further enhance Brazil's profile in the oil and gas industry, as exploration of the Pre-Salt will attract domestic and foreign investments, generate significant wealth for the country and contribute to the development of the national oil industry. With such natural wealth, Brazil also acquires prominence in terms of research and technological development in energy, since many centers of excellence in that subject are being established in Brazil.

The new role that Brazil has as a major producer and as a technological center in that field has resulted in many requests for technical visits of representatives of other countries and in the creation of numerous bilateral cooperation mechanisms - as is the case of the dialogues established with South Africa, China, United States, India, Norway, UK, Russia and the European Union, among others.

Brazil also takes part in major international organizations and initiatives related to energy. In particular, Brazil follows the discussions within the Latin American Organization of Energy (OLADE) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), as well as the Unasur. Brazil also participates in discussions within the International Energy Agency (IEA), which devoted a special chapter of the last edition of its World Energy Outlook to Brazil. In the G-20, Brazil participates in discussions within the Working Group on Energy Sustainability, which debates issues of great importance in the global energy scene.

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