Foreign policy think-tank Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has issued a new study analyzing the predicted consumption rates of the US, China, India, and Brazil for the next two decades as well as efforts for increased management of climate change through technological innovation. IT Decisions comments on the findings.
The first interesting observation within the report is that in the three fast-developing economies, the majority of new-energy researchers work for the government – in the United States, the majority are employed by industry. Quite a different approach to new-energy and with implications for innovation.
Of most interest to the Brazil tech-watcher is that the study criticizes trade barriers in Brazil, India, and China for slowing the adoption of alternative energy technologies. Trade tariffs are preventing real progress on climate change and not just preventing the Brazilian consumer from enjoying a cheaper iPad.
IT Decisions contacted Ken Montgomery, vice president of international trade regulation for trade association TechAmerica to comment on the forthcoming visit to Brazil of president Obama, but his initial reaction over US-Brazil relations from a technology standpoint goes directly to the points raised by the CFR report.
“Brazil is not a member of the WTO Information Technology Agreement whereby all participating countries eliminate tariffs ($0 duty) on information technology products identified in the Agreement. Brazil applies a high rate of duty on high tech products thereby reducing and preventing imports to businesses and consumers,” said Montgomery.
Brazil is already a leader in alternative energy sources with 85% hydroelectric power, but this won’t last for long – demand is predicted to rise by at least six per cent annually for this entire decade, changing the balance of how power is sourced significantly.
The CFR study also highlights the peril of rapid economic development, consumption increases with general wealth and in large nations such as India, China, and Brazil, this creates new pressures – particularly in areas such as energy supply and the management of climate change.
Brazil and India face different challenges to the autocratic government of China because of the free democratic systems of government – see challenges to dam construction for proof that the people can challenge measures the government says are essential.
But at the end of the day, if the trade tariff system in Brazil is not revised to encourage more sharing of energy-saving technology then there is a energy time-bomb ticking away under every light switch. Turn it off before you leave the office tonight.
Photo by Rafael Cavalcante licensed under Creative Commons