BRICS Energy Approach

BRICS Energy Approach


Maria Cândida Mousinho

Last November, the XI BRICS Summit was held in Brazil. This meeting discussed the ranking of these countries regarding a variety of themes including energy, which is crucial for the development of BRICS. There are several energy concerns in the BRICS, such as increased CO2 emissions. According to ExxonMobil (2017), energy-related CO2 emissions rose between 2000 and 2015 by approximately 40%, peaking in the 2030s. Improved energy efficiency and reduced use of CO2 help reduce emissions despite of increasing population and GDP growth. One example of this is China. There was a 1000% increase in GDP from 1990 to 2015. However, promoting energy efficiency in that country has made emissions grow at a slower pace (EXXONOMOMOBIL, 2017). It could be highlighted that global demand for energy is projected to continue to increase, and ten emerging economies alongside with China and India will account for approximately half of all growth in world energy demand (EXXONMOBIL, 2014, 2016).

When it comes to consumption, India was, in 2016, the third largest energy consumer in the world after China and the United States. And the country's need for energy supply continues to rise as a result of dynamic economic growth over the last few years, which has proved resilient even after the global crisis of 2008 and the slowdown in growth among emerging countries (EIA, 2016b). Among BRICS, India, after China, is the country that demands more energy: its production represents 11% of world energy production and its consumption 16.6% (MME, 2016a). Brazil was the eighth largest energy consumer in the world and the third largest in the Americas, behind the United States and Canada (EIA, 2017b). Brazilian energy production represents 6% of global production (about half of Indian production) and consumption in the country represents 5.8% of the global.

While the deficit between production and consumption in India is 300 Mtoe (in 2015 was 281), in Brazil the deficit is 6 Mtoe, lower than the previous year, which was 33 Mtoe (MME, 2015, 2016a). Brazil, China and India are the only ones among the BRICS with a deficit between production and energy consumption as can be seen in the graph below. Russia has the most comfortable situation regarding to energy production and consumption.

In the context of production and consumption of the main non-renewable energy, it should be noted that CO2emissions from both Brazil and India increased consecutively over more than half a century (WOLD BANK, 2017d; 2017e). That in itself would justify investments in renewable energy. Considering that investing in renewable energies in addition to providing economic development through job creation, also contributes to increasing the countries' competitiveness through, for example, greater academic interaction between these countries, creating strategic expertise in the area.

Under the BRICS scope, all the declarations of the summits (held since 2009) made clear the interest of countries in promoting renewable energy and in encouraging cooperation in this area. With regard to renewable energy, the declarations recognized the importance of diversifying energy matrices, promoting renewable energy and international cooperation among member countries in this area, including exchange of experiences in alternative sources, technologies and policies in the area of biofuels, training and research and development. During the 2013 Summit, the Declaration of Thekwini (held in Africa) energy was considered a relevant area for cooperation among the countries of the South. In the declaration of the Sixth BRICS Summit, held in 2014, in Fortaleza, Brazil, they reiterated that renewable energy, research and development of new technologies can be an important engine for promoting sustainable development, leading to economic growth, reduction of energy costs and increased efficiency in the use of natural resources, in view of their respective policies and natural resources.

During the declaration presented in Russia in 2015, many countries have committed themselves to have their energy regulators seek ways of cooperating with one another and have called on their political authorities to consider the possibilities for cooperation among these countries, reaffirming once again that developing international energy cooperation between BRICS is necessary. In Goa, India, countries recognized the relevance of renewable energy, as it had occurred in previous meetings, and once again highlighted international cooperation in this area. In 2017, in China, during the ninth summit, in addition to re-echoing the same intentions from previous summits on renewable energy, they encouraged dialogue on establishing a BRICS energy research cooperation platform.

There was a great expectative regarding the BRICS Summit in 2019. The word pragmatism dominated the dialogs. The BRICS recognizes the crucial role of energy in promoting social and economic development as well as environmental protection and they agreed that the diversification of energy sources is fundamental to achieve energy security. They committed to increase the share of renewable energy and the cooperation between BRICS countries in the field of energy.

With so many different challenges across countries, more efficient actions are expected to be implemented, as this is not merely a political issue but a strategic one in terms of economic, environmental and social positioning for the coming years.

Dr. Maria Cândida Mousinho teaches at the Federal Institute of Bahia (IFBA), Brazil and also at the Multi-Institutional and Multidisciplinary Doctorate. She is also a fellow at the United Nations University with a project on Energy and Governance. Fellow at the Managing Global Governance Programme (DIE/Germany). She can be reached at