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Thinking for a cooler world

Global Ideas Reporter | Reporter's Log Rio+20

Rio’s romance with renewable resources

Author and pictures: Kerstin Schnatz

Cups made from corn or electricity from sugar cane: Rio is eager these days to show that it can be environmentally friendly. The city is hosting the United Nations conference on Sustainable Development – better known as Rio+20. While the official part is only starting on Wednesday (June 20) the congress venue is already open for preparatory meetings and non-governmental events.

The Brazilian government is trying to make a point, it seems, of just how much it values the use of renewable resources  such as corn or sugarcane. Indeed, Brazil is well known as a biofuel-country: The standard blend cars run on consists of up to 25 percent of biofuel for example. Even the Brazilian airline that flew us in bragged about its green commitment in the inflight magazine. The carrier plans  to operate a domestic flight on biofuel especially for Rio+20.

Whilst renewable resources may emit less CO2 than fossil fuels, depending on how they are processed and transported, they can of course also create a lot of problems – monocultures, conflict between food and fuel production or soil degradation to name just a few.


June 15, 2012