Brazil will take “parallel” reality to COP26 and should follow

After a strategic change in the environmental area, the Brazilian government must sell a new image of its environmental policy, that of a “real Brazil”, during COP26, which starts next Sunday (31) in Glasgow, Scotland. The narrative that the largest country in South America is also one of the best preserved in the world, according to environmentalists, meets the Brazilian perspectives of making money from the carbon market – certainly one of the main themes of this edition of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change.

In a report released on October 25, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), an agency linked to the UN, demonstrates that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached a new record, even with the pandemic, which increases the challenge of limiting average warming of the planet at 1.5 degrees centigrade, compared to the pre-industrial period. In light of this and other indicators, the 200 countries attending the event are also being encouraged to present more ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

::Bem Viver Program discusses what to expect from Brazil’s participation in COP 26::

Environmental activists and politicians from the opposition to the government of Jair Bolsonaro (no party) say they will have representatives at the event and consider that Brazil is only beckoning with little assertive measures. They cite as an example the Green Growth program, launched last Monday, to encourage sustainable economic activities. For federal deputy Nilto Tatto (PT-SP), the decarbonization targets that the country must present are also “not too bold”, such as the commitment to achieve zero net emission of polluting gases by 2050.

“When the minister of the Environment changed (Ricardo Salles left and Joaquim Leite joined), the policy did not change at all, only the rhetoric. Since then, we’ve noticed this movement, including going to the climate summit in a more organized way,” says Tatto, who also accuses the agribusiness sectors of articulating the current government’s environmental policies: “for them, land tenure regularization serves to end illegal deforestation, but deep down they want to legalize deforestation”.

Aerial image of a fire near the Flora do Jacundá, in Rondônia / Bruno Kelly/Amazônia Real/07/08/2020

Also in an attempt to get rid of the reputation of “environmental villain”, federal government emissaries should also avoid mentioning indicators of environmental setbacks, such as the rate of destruction of the Amazon, which INPE (National Institute for Space Research) plans to follow above 10,000 km² for the third consecutive year. The British website specializing in climate change Carbon Brief cites, in a study released in October this year, that deforestation is responsible for 85% of Brazilian carbon dioxide emissions.

In the opinion of Marcelo Laterman, spokesman for Climate and Justice at Greenpeace, it is nonsense for the government to demand foreign investments after cutting funds from agencies destined to protect and inspect the Brazilian biomes. “Bolsonaro dismantled all the environmental agencies, such as ICMBio, Ibama and Funai, and now he’s going there to ask for money to protect the forest and the climate, since he left around R$ 7 billion from the Amazon Fund standing still,” he argues.

distant protagonism

Despite uncertainties about China’s posture in the coming years, which is already projecting to reach its peak of CO2 emissions by the end of this decade, some optimism hovers over COP26 after the return of the United States to the negotiating table, now under the government of Joe Biden. For Congressman Rodrigo Agostinho (PSB-SP), while the United States discusses investments for preservation in the trillion-dollar house, Brazil should “do its homework” to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, planting trees and avoiding the burning of coal and petroleum products.

“We lose 1.5 million hectares of forest a year. Is very. We needed to take a new climate target, not for 2050, but short, medium and long-term goals”, adds Agostinho who, on the other hand, sees Joaquim Leite as a more qualified negotiator than his predecessor in dealing with carbon credits.

His colleague at meetings of the Committee on the Environment in the Chamber of Deputies, Tatto agrees that the Brazilian government needs to claim quotas from historically more polluting countries with higher consumption, especially those in the northern hemisphere, but reinforces that the resources obtained in an eventual consolidation The carbon market – a hypothesis that is still considered remote in the coming months – tend to go to sectors linked to agribusiness.

“Then there is an internal regulatory problem, which is: who does this money go to? Because the agribusiness wants to sell credits over permanent preservation areas, within the property, and does not consider, for example, the role of indigenous peoples, quilombolas, extractivists and family farming in preserving ecosystems”, he ponders.

Both opposition deputies and environmentalists consulted by Brasil de Fato agree that, regardless of the scenario that is painted at this COP, Brazil will remain very far from the environmental protagonism it has experienced in the past. Márcio Santilli, founder of the NGO Instituto Socioambiental, recalls the period between 2006 and 2012 when, according to him, the country promoted “the greatest reduction in carbon emissions in history”, pressuring other countries to adhere to a global agreement in the following years.

“Brazil was the first developing country to have the courage to assume, before the international community, a target of reductions. At that time, Brazil caused an inflection in the process, leading China to advance its position and forcing a more effective horizon for the Paris Agreement (in 2015)”, says Santilli, before concluding that the country arrives in Glasgow “in against science and without political conditions to lead effective resolutions”.

energy transition

Due to its geographical configurations, Brazil is also seen as one of the countries with the greatest potential to take the lead in the process of adapting energy matrices, due to its well-known vocation for renewable and cleaner sources – one of the recommendations made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Change Climate, the IPCC, another agency linked to the UN, in a report published in August.

“Brazil is fully capable of having a 100% renewable electricity matrix, using its already established base of hydroelectric plants and being able to better exploit solar and wind energy sources”, evaluates Laterman. However, he points out that Greenpeace is reticent about the political will to use the carbon market to invest in energy transition.

Tatto, on the other hand, defends that the country fights for international subsidies in this sense, even for the “more complex” energy profile of countries like Russia, China and Japan. “It is important then that Brazil covers support from developed countries not only with money, but with technologies and knowledge”, defends the PT deputy.

From a global perspective, Santilli regrets that despite the signals emitted by the main powers, this year’s summit also comes under greater pressure from large business conglomerates, “interested in offsetting their pollutant emissions with the purchase of credits in other parts of the world” . According to the environmentalist, in addition to reducing the chances of reversing global warming, this path could further aggravate inequality between nations.

This year, the world experienced extreme events linked to climate change, such as heat waves, floods and forest fires that affected and displaced thousands of people. In view of the environmental impacts, Laterman draws attention to the difficulties faced by the most vulnerable populations. “It is a moment of impoverishment, a return to hunger and more expensive energy. That’s why COP resolutions are so urgent”, he warns.

Edition: Vinicius Segalla

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