By Doug Gray, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Clean and Cool, a week-long business mission featuring representatives of the UK’s most promising and environmentally aware companies, brought British and Brazilian business interests into line in Rio and São Paulo at the start of the month.
Beginning on October 30th in Rio before moving on to São Paulo, the mission brought with it new technologies and ideas with a view to adapting them for Brazil-specific problems. Sectors as diverse as waste and water, agriculture and forestry and bio energy were represented, the entrepreneurs immersing themselves in Brazil’s own cleantech businesses and innovations.
Dr. Mike Pitts, the UK Technology Strategy Board’s sustainability specialist, was impressed by the welcome they received both in Rio and São Paulo. There was, he told The Rio Times, “a scale and seriousness” about doing business here, particularly in São Paulo, and significant progress had been made during the short visit.
“The aim is an entrepreneur mission, not a trade mission, and these are young, hot companies with high potential, so the opportunity-rich market here is a perfect fit,” commented Pitts from the middle of FIMAI, São Paulo’s annual Industrial Environment and Sustainability Fair.
There was also a frank discussion of what it takes to do business in a country well known for its occasional eccentricities and bureaucratic complications. Among those making headway are Clearview Traffic Group who, by day six of the mission, had reached an agreement to run a trial project for cycle lanes around Rio’s 2016 Olympic site in Barra da Tijuca.
One of the biggest surprises, however, was a visit to the city’s favelas with SEaB Energy. “The idea is to use the organic waste from the favela to generate energy on site,” said Dr Pitts, “to turn a possibility into economic opportunity. The demand came from within the favela itself and we were very impressed by what we saw.”
Elsewhere, Cyan Solutions are looking to make inroads into Brazil’s energy monitoring. Aiming to help reduce the estimated R$6 billion lost every year to electricity theft, their wireless metering system looks to overcome the gato system of informal electricity connections common throughout Rio.
Following two Cool and Clear missions to San Francisco, the Brazil visit was a timely one, and the fundamental backdrop in a country with such huge potential energy supply compared to demand, is limiting waste, but also maximizing hitherto untapped resources.
The ultimate goal of such partnerships is a continued move towards reducing CO2 emissions, which will become the subject of debate again this month with the release of an in-depth, UN-sanctioned survey of Brazil’s progress in the area since the turn of the 20th Century.
“Brazil has given an important contribution to the reduction of global greenhouse emissions with the halt of Amazon deforestation in the last decade,” says Tarso Azevedo, former director of the Brazilian Froest Service.
“Now the country needs to tackle current contradictions, which are taking agriculture and livestock, energy, industrial processes and waste in the opposite direction. It needs to prevent those sectors’ emissions growing above global averages.”