Brazil to present formal deforestation pledge at COP26

climate cop26
Brazil promises to zero illegal deforestation by 2030 — will it happen? Photo: Jo Galvão/Shutterstock

The Brazilian delegation to the UN Climate Summit (COP26) in Glasgow will make a formal pledge within the Paris Agreement to eliminate illegal deforestation by 2030 and neutralize its carbon emissions by 2050.

President Jair Bolsonaro had already made those commitments in April, during the Leaders’ Summit on Climate led by U.S. President Joe Biden. Still, international observers point out that Brazil didn’t officially register its promises within international instruments or organizations. Furthermore: Brazil has been promising zero deforestation by 2030 for six years now, when President Dilma Rousseff first made the pledge at the UN General Assembly.

Environment Minister Joaquim Leite told reporters this Friday that an internal working group coordinated by Chief of Staff Ciro Nogueira is drafting a new policy to bring the 2030 goal forward, but no further details have been disclosed. Senator Katia Abreu, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee and highly influential in Foreign Minister Carlos França’s cabinet, wants the goal accomplished by 2025. 

Facing pressure from the U.S., the European Union, and the United Kingdom — the latter is chairing the COP26 — to “raise its climate ambitions,” Brazil dug its heels and is not planning to present a new NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution) of emissions reductions in Glasgow. “We have an economy-wide NDC and one of the world’s most ambitious goals to reduce carbon emissions,” said Mr. Leite.

Climate experts, however, point out that Brazil’s new NDC introduced last December allows the country to pollute more than the previous goal presented in 2015. The new NDC will enable Brazil to emit around 400 million tons of carbon more than the target six years ago. Still, behind closed doors, government officials are drafting a new and “more ambitious” NDC to be presented in 2022.