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Brazil fudges the numbers in latest climate pledge

. Dec 13, 2020
climate pledge brazil Wildifre in Pará state: Amazon deforestation is rising at unprecedented levels. Photo: Paralaxis/Shutterstock

Hailed as a “historical document” by then-United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, the Paris Agreement of December 2015 became the first global climate agreement since 1997, when nations came together to draft the Kyoto Protocol.

This month, the agreement turns five years old as the signatory countries submit new versions of the commitments they pledged to in 2015. On Tuesday, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles announced that Brazil aims to neutralize its greenhouse gas emissions by 2060.

</p> <p>He went on to declare that this 40-year deadline could be brought forward, providing Brazil receives USD 10 billion every year from developed countries to support Brazilian climate policies. However, the details of Brazil&#8217;s new climate goals were only submitted on Wednesday, and the data caused alarm among environmentalists.</p> <p>Analysis from the <a href="http://www.observatoriodoclima.eco.br/en/">Observatório do Clima</a>, a network made up of 56 civil society organizations, shows that the new goal will allow Brazil to reach 2030 emitting 400 million tons of greenhouse gases more than originally forecast. The new proposal also dismisses important commitments, such as reducing deforestation in the Amazon region.</p> <h2><strong>Ministry ignored emissions updates</strong></h2> <p>The Environment Ministry maintained the greenhouse gas reduction percentage it established five years ago — 43 percent fewer emissions by 2030 — but did not take into account a report entitled Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, issued by the Science and Technology Ministry, deemed the most important source of data on emissions used in the calculations.</p> <p>&#8220;The 2015 reduction goal was based on the Second Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Meanwhile, the current goal is based on the Third Inventory, which updated the absolute value of gases emitted in 2005 from 2.1 billion tons to 2.8 billion,&#8221; warned Marcio Astrini, the executive secretary of the Observatório do Clima.</p> <p>Brazil&#8217;s climate goal is based on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in 2005. According to Tasso Azevedo, coordinator of <a href="https://mapbiomas.org/en?cama_set_language=en">MapBiomas</a> and Observatório do Clima specialist, the total is calculated for each edition of the Inventory and revised periodically. “The Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions is usually updated every four years, when a new Inventory is published,&#8221; he explains.</p> <p>With this latest update, the absolute value of gases emitted in 2005 rose to 2.8 billion. In practice, if a 43 percent reduction established in 2015 meant emitting 1.2 billion tons of gases by 2030, the new update submitted by the Environment Ministry would allow Brazil to emit 1.6 billion tons.</p> <p>Therefore, according to specialists, to simply maintain the climate goals previously agreed to by Brazil, Ricardo Salles should have pledged to reduce emissions by 57 percent by 2030, and not 43 percent.</p> <h2><strong>“Insufficient and immoral”</strong></h2> <p>Moreover, the Observatório do Clima highlighted that Mr. Salles&#8217; deadline of 2060 to reduce emissions is much longer than those seen in other countries of the Paris Agreement, which pledged to zero their carbon gas emissions in 2050.</p> <p>&#8220;The NDC announced [by the Environment Ministry] is insufficient and immoral. A 43-percent reduction of emissions in 2030 is not in line with any of the Paris Agreement goals of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius. If every country had the same ambition, it would leave us with a world that is 3 degrees Celsius warmer,&#8221; said the organization, in a statement.</p> <p>The organization said that Mr. Salles&#8217; additional statement — that the deadline to reach carbon neutrality in the next 40 years could be brought forward with financial assistance from developed countries — was nothing more than &#8220;blackmail.&#8221;</p> <p>Indeed, this is not the first time that Mr. Salles has spoken of requesting USD 10 billion each year from rich countries to invest in Brazilian conservation projects. In 2019, during the preparatory meetings for the <a href="https://brazilian.report/environment/2019/12/12/brazil-ricardo-salles-united-nations-cop-25/">UN International Climate Change Conference</a> (COP 25) in Madrid, he mentioned this same figure, corresponding to 10 percent of the total foreseen in the Paris Agreement to be transferred from developed countries to under-developed countries.</p> <h2><strong>Geopolitical isolation</strong></h2> <p>It is important to reinforce the geopolitical weight of the Paris Agreement. With the recent <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2020/11/07/what-to-expect-for-us-brazil-relations-with-a-biden-white-house/">electoral victory of Democratic candidate Joe Biden</a> in the U.S., Brazil is likely to become more isolated in its international climate stance, as the country was largely backed up by the Donald Trump White House. The change in power in the U.S. is set to increase the pressure from countries and regional blocs on Brazil.</p> <p>Therefore, there is a large question mark hanging over Brazil&#8217;s involvement and stance at the 2021 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

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Renato Alves

Renato Alves is a Brazilian journalist who has worked for Correio Braziliense and Crusoé.

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