Brazil withdraws offer to host UN climate change meeting

Decision is due to budget constraints and a presidential transition

Photo: EPA Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil has withdrawn on Wednesday its offer to host a large UN conference on climate change next year, in the latest signal that Latin America’s largest nation no longer aspires to be an influential player in efforts to mitigate the effects of a warming planet. As a reason to pull the offer, the country cited "the current fiscal and budget constraints, which are expected to remain in the near future," according to a foreign ministry statement.

Yet, environmental groups interpreted the decision as a signal that Brazil is no longer interested in being a leader in fighting climate change and as a a nod to President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who promised during his campaign to pull Brazil out of the Paris Accord on climate change, so he could help mining and agribusiness companies expand their activities in protected areas, including Amazonian forests. Climate scientists have stated, however, that Bolsonaro's stated intention to open the Amazon for greater development could make it impossible for Latin America's largest nation to meet its reduced emissions targets in the coming years.

"The reversal to host the meeting is likely because of the opposition of the incoming government, which has already declared war on sustainable development on multiple occasions," environmental group Observatorio da Clima said, for instance, on its website. "It's not the first and will not be the last awful news on this theme."

In recent years, Brazil’s standing as an environmental exemplar has eroded as farmers, miners and cattle ranchers have razed large areas of forest cover in the Amazon with only occasional push back from the agencies tasked with enforcing environmental laws and regulations. As a result, deforestation in the Amazon is now once again on the rise. Between August 2017 and July of this year, deforestation in the Amazon rose by nearly 14 per cent, according to figures the Brazilian government released last week. That represented the highest loss of forest cover in the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest, in a decade.

“Climate and the environment are the only issues where Brazil is a leader in global terms. We are not leaders in world trade, we are not leaders in a geopolitical sense on security issues. But on climate and environment we are leaders, and we are giving that up,” Carlos Rittl, executive secretary of the Observatorio da Clima, said.

Similar articles