Recife - An ambitious climate plan, integrating the challenges of increased vulnerability and the role of the informal sector

Assessment of the territories’ climate action


Association Climate Chance (Climate Chance)

Since 2015, the Climate Chance Association has been involved in the mobilization in the fight against climate change. It is the only international association that proposes to bring together on an equal footing all the non-State actors recognized by the UN. In order to strengthen their action and to give credibility to the climate stabilization scenarios, the Climate Chance Association launched in 2018 a Global Observatory of Non-State Climate Action, which aims to explain the evolution of greenhouse gas emissions, by crossing national public policies, with sectoral dynamics, private actors’ strategies, local public policies, and actions undertaken by the actors of the territory. In order to analyse the coherence of local public policies, Climat Chance proposes an assessment of « territorial mobilisations » through selected examples of cities and regions. Here, the case of Recife in Brazil.

Selected by ICLEI as the « model city » of its Urban LEDS project, Recife has adopted a climate plan integrating mitigation and adaptation (PSMC) as early as 2014, aiming to reduce emissions by 21.18% by 2037 compared to 2012 (3.12 MtCO2eq). In 2012, emissions were distributed as follows: 65.2 per cent in transport, 19.4 per cent in waste treatment and sanitation, and 15.3 per cent in stationary energy. Recife indicates that it emitted 2.3 MtCO2eq in 2015, 20% less than in 2012, stating that this decrease is due to the application of a new methodology considering biofuel as carbon neutral (COP 2017). With the help of Aria Technologie, the city of Recife set up an interactive CARBO COUNT map in 2015 to inform and raise awareness among the inhabitants on the evolution of emissions.


In 2007, the IPCC classified Recife as one of the cities most vulnerable to climate change, due in particular to its very high population density on the coast and its average altitude below sea level. Mostly informal, Recife’s urban development leads to a very uneven distribution of activities, concentrated on less than a third of its territory. The result is an almost complete disappearance of vegetation cover, an increasing sealing of the urban soil, and a concentration of transport and waste problems. In order to face these problems, Recife is counting on a policy of planting 100,000 trees in the city by 2020 and on the expansion of its main urban park «  Capibaribe ", which should lead to an increase in green space per inhabitant from 1.2 m2/inhabitant to 20 m2/inhabitant by 2037, and a reduction in emissions of 3.6 ktCO2eq/year from 2020, i.e. about 0.1% of emissions.


With a 382% increase in the vehicle fleet between 1990 and 2014 (from 251,423 cars to 1,211,218) and a public transport supply that has failed to keep pace with population growth, Recife is facing problems of congestion and large-scale public transport failures. To deal with these problems, the Prefecture is working on the completion of East-West-North-South BRT lines and the establishment of BRs corridors between each district of the city in order to promote access to and use of public transport. It is also counting on the creation of 76 km of bicycle paths, the recovery of 110 km of sidewalks and the expansion of the self-service bicycle programme «  Bike Pernambuco ". (+700% of subscriptions in the first half of 2018) to stimulate the use of soft transports. Finally, Recife is currently replacing all its public and road lighting with LED lamps, which should reduce emissions by 58%. All these actions should represent a decrease of 0.2 MtCO2eq in 2020 and 0.82 MtCO2eq by 2032.


0.6 MtCO2eq come from a largely deficient waste treatment system, where 99.6% of the city’s waste is buried in private landfills without any sorting, recycling or biogas recovery, resulting in increased pollution of the city’s rivers and canals. Recife is currently working on the construction of 8 new ecopoints and the creation of centres for the purchase and sale of solid waste, in order to stimulate the reflexes of selective sorting among the population. It has also set up a policy to promote the work of waste collectors with sorting bicycles in the disadvantaged « bicicletas » districts, representing up to 40% of the harvest in some neighbourhoods. These policies aim to reduce waste treatment emissions by 25% by 2032.


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