In 2006 Betim became the Network’s first Model Community in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Municipality is located 30 Km from Belo Horizonte (the state Capital). It has one of the major industrial concentrations in the State of Minas Gerais, with a rapid economic development. The City has a population of 400.000 and is growing at a rate 7% per year. Betim participates in the Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) Campaign and has implemented a very strong Local Agenda 21 program. With a government that is conscious of the negative impacts of climate change, Betim has various initiatives aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other local pollutants, such as the promotion of solar energy and energy efficiency methods.
Politics in Betim
The Secretary for the Environment, who has been in office since December 2008, has declared his personal support of energy efficiency and renewable energy, and actively expresses this toward higher levels of government and colleagues from other cities. The Brazilian Federal government has even announced a new Accelerated Growth Programme that will build one million government housing units for low-income families within a single year. It has been signaled that five thousand of these homes will be built in Betim. The local government is already working towards making these units more sustainable with solar thermal panels and rain water collectors. Thus, the project has given clear signals in the Brazilian context that energy efficiency and renewable energy are reasonable policy matters and can be kept beyond changes in party politics.