Emerging Markets Institute conference reveals Brazil’s leadership in the biofuel space

Business leaders from the South American nation tell Cornell audience the myriad unique ways Brazil hopes to achieve a leadership position in sustainable solution development

On March 4, “Brazil: A Pathway into the Future,” a daylong conference hosted by Johnson’s Emerging Markets Institute (EMI) and Better Brazil , featured an opening round of speakers who described the growth potential of Brazil and multpile panel discussions on specific topics related to business opportunities presented by the emerging economy of Brazil.

Of particular interest to those connected with growing and emerging markets was a panel discussion, moderated by Johnson professor of Entrepreneurship and Personal Enterprise, Wesley D. Sine, on Brazil’s trend towards biofuel usage in transportation, and ways in which the nation might act as a leading example of sustainability for the United States and other world economies.

The panel featured Allan Kardec Duailibe, director of the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP-Brazil); Professor Michel Louge, who has in the past worked as a process development engineer at Shell International in The Netherlands and now teaches in the College of Engineering; and Carolina Costa, senior associate at McLarty Associates, and former advisor for Institutional Relations at the Brazilian Sugar-cane Industry Association (UNICA).

The panel discussed the Brazilian Vehicle Matrix, which illustrates the breakdown of various types of energy, such as gasoline, diesel, and ethanol used by the population and other energy sources, particularly biofuels, that the government is considering.

The subject of sugarcane-derived ethanol was an important highlight of the discussion for all three panelists. Carolina Costa noted that sugarcane is Brazil’s number-one renewable source of energy and internationally, it is second energy source after petroleum. She claimed that ethanol use has precluded the release of 600 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions since 1975. Costa dismissed arguments that growing sugarcane as a biofuel leads to deforestation of the Amazon, citing that the plant needs very dry weather and lots of sunlight.

“I see a political willingness in Brazil to make itself an example of forest management,” said Costa. “Brazil is in a position to use their resources in the best way. It has a wonderful population. It has the opportunity to escape this resource curse that many other countries have fallen into.”

The panel also discussed the opportunity to investment in “flex-fuel” vehicles, which take advantage of biofuels’ high-energy output and high emissions reduction. They also discussed future applications of renewable energy not only in cars, but also buses, planes, and motorcycles.

Costa concluded with a piece of insight for Johnson students, who attended the conference, stating that biofuel usage will, without doubt, expand internationally due to consumer demand and public policy interests. In this way, the Brazilian market will become increasingly important to future business leaders interested in global development and growth.

Reported by Chrysan Tung, Cornell ’11