The Bank, Brazil and biofuels

1 April 2008

By María José Romero, Choike

The World Bank has become a major financial and political supporter of Brazil’s campaign for sugar cane based ethanol and a free market for biofuels. Currently, the IFC is investing around $200 million in three such projects in Sao Paulo state.

In a recent speech Bank president Robert Zoellick said that the expansion of an ethanol market could help mitigate climate change, “if we remove trade barriers in developed economies”. During his time as US trade representative from 2001 to 2005 Zoellick was a tough adversary of Brazil in international negotiations, but he has since changed his tune following the boom in biofuels. Zoellick’s speech was transmitted by video link to the G8 plus 5 Legislator’s Forum on Climate Change, held in Brasilia in February.

if we remove trade barriers in developed countries

Civil society organisations, such as Friends of the Earth Brazil, argue that the expansion of large-scale monoculture for export threatens small-scale family run agriculture – which forms the basis of the region’s food security – water availability, and the most productive land for food cultivation.