The Climate Summit convened by the United States for the next 22 will be a test of the new global political configuration. While Joe Biden wants to show the world that his country can lead the way to a more sustainable economy, Jair Bolsonaro will seek to convince the American that Brazil will not be an obstacle.
To assert himself as a world leader in the face of the most complex challenge humanity has ever faced, Biden and his special climate envoy, John Kerry, must signal that the US commitment will be consistent and, for that, integrated into commercial relations. This is where the greatest risk lies for the Bolsonaro government, which already faces restrictions in trade relations with the Europeans. On the other hand, it is also one of the rare occasions for the government to review its environmental policy.
The conversations promoted by the Biden government with Brazil over the past two months shocked Brazilian environmentalists, who came under critical pressure from the Americans and came to fear a “secret deal,” sewn only behind the scenes between the two countries.
Last Friday (16), Democratic senators sent a letter asking President Biden to demand that Brazil tackle deforestation. The condition may not be a novelty in the negotiation between the two countries, which signals small developments.
According to sources linked to the Brazilian government, Kerry has offered Brazil compensation, with funds from the private sector, linked to a good performance in the fight against deforestation. The communication from the US government does not confirm the information.
The model of payment after proof of results is similar to that of the Amazon Fund, which received donations from Germany and Norway. The mechanism was blocked at the start of the Bolsonaro government, after an attempt by Minister Ricardo Salles (Environment) to change the management of the fund.
Criticism of a possible “secret deal” warns against an apparent desire to be convinced by the rhetoric of the Brazilian government. However, the American movement can have two bets.
The first would be to achieve a radical change in the position of the Bolsonaro government on the Amazon – which would solidify Biden’s image as a world leader on the climate agenda. The second, if Brazil does not cooperate, would be to obtain the justification for the creation of restrictions in the relations between the two countries.
In the second scenario, Biden would also strengthen himself as a “good guy” by opposing Brazil, who would be even more isolated in the figure of the climate villain.
In search of a pragmatic and viable framework for the second half of the Bolsonaro administration, Salles took the lead in the dialogue with the United States – last year, Vice President Hamilton Mourão played the role of ” public relations “with European diplomats. and foreign investors in conversations about deforestation in the Amazon.
As Folha revealed, Salles even showed in a meeting with the Americans the image of a dog in front of a roast chicken machine, representing Brazilian appetite for the financial resources Biden promised to the Amazon. Meanwhile, deforestation in the region hit another record in March: it was 12% higher than the same period in 2020 and the highest in the past six years for a month of March, according to data from the ‘Inpe (National Institute for Space Research). .
One of the commitments that Brazil must present at this week’s summit was put forward in a letter addressed to Biden by President Jair Bolsonaro: the elimination of illegal deforestation by 2030. This goal had already been presented by the Brazil in 2015, when the Paris Agreement was signed, but was withdrawn by the Bolsonaro government from the target review late last year.
On Twitter, Kerry responded to Bolsonaro’s letter saying that Bolsonaro’s “recomprometimento” with the goal is important. “We expect immediate action and engagement with indigenous peoples and civil society so that this announcement can generate tangible results,” he said, balancing recognition and demand.
Another commitment that Brazil is also expected to announce at the summit is the reduction of deforestation by the end of 2022, to 8,700 km2, which would be the average level recorded between 2016 and 2020. However, according to the calculation made by the Observatory of the climate, the average annual period was in fact 7,500 km2. In practice, the government would commit to ending government with 16% more deforestation than in early 2019, when it took office.
The inconsistencies in the government’s calculations also appear in the revised Paris Agreement target. Brazil is accused by experts of “climate cycling” and backtracking on its goal.
Although it maintained its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030, based on values published in 2005, Brazil changed the basis for calculating emissions for that year, which proved to be superior with the new method.
By changing the baseline without adjusting the target, Brazil is raising its emissions cap by the end of the decade, which may emit up to 400 million tonnes of greenhouse gases more than what was previously provided for in the previous commitment.
But it is the Americans’ new climate target, recently freed from Trump’s denialism, that is generating the highest expectation for the Climate Summit. This may indicate a definite shift towards a more sustainable, low-emission global economy.
Correcting the pedaling in the climate targets would represent, at least in theory, the minimal chance of today’s Brazil to hitchhike and secure a place in this new global scenario, dictated by the climate.
The climate agenda has been consolidated among the main axes of global geopolitics since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015. Three years earlier, Brazil had the lowest historical deforestation rate in the Amazon at the same time. time for the region’s agricultural GDP to hit records.
By proving that productivity was independent of devastation, Brazil offered the world a model of more sustainable development and, with this, strengthened its place as a protagonist in climate negotiations, having been one of the main articulators of the text of the Paris Agreement. The document plans to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to zero by mid-century, swap the matrix of fossil fuels for renewables, and conserve ecosystems that help regulate the global climate, such as this is the case of the Amazon.
Before Trump, who came to claim that climate change was a China-made hoax, the United States had faced international mistrust of this agenda since the Bush era, when the world was negotiating the first climate treaty – the Kyoto Protocol – under resistance then the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, which has not ratified the document. Even though China now ranks first in the global emissions rankings, the United States still accounts for the largest share of gases released into the atmosphere throughout history.
With the tight deadline to correct directions, Biden will be able to do so alongside or over Bolsonaro’s Brazil.