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Brazil's hydro dams could make its greenhouse gas emissions soar

Already a top emitter, Brazil could spew hundreds of millions more tons of gases blamed for climate change, such as CO2 and methane, as it floods Amazon forest for hydro power, researchers say.

Source:  Copyright 2013, GlobalPost
Date:  July 1, 2013
Byline:  Simeon Tegel
Original URL: Status ONLINE

Officials here frequently claim that the huge hydroelectric dams that increasingly dot the Brazilian Amazon are a source of "clean energy.'

The dams often flood vast areas of rain forest, leading to a major loss of biodiversity and the devastating displacement of indigenous communities from their ancestral lands.

That is justified, President Dilma Rousseff claims, because they help fight climate change.

"[Hydroelectric power] does not emit greenhouse gases, and that means we have a renewable energy project,' she said when recently inaugurating one Amazonian dam.

Yet, according to independent scientists, that claim does not stand up to scrutiny.

In fact, the dams may even be causing Brazil's carbon footprint -- already the world's third largest, according to the International Energy Agency -- to expand significantly, dumping hundreds of millions of additional tons of the gases blamed for climate change into the atmosphere.

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