The US government’s special climate envoy and main link in the White House-Plateau diplomatic relationship, John Kerry says Brazil has a responsibility to lead the climate crisis, under a system of oversight and collection designed by the United States. Joe Biden’s team.
In an exclusive interview with Folha, Kerry says he’s ready to negotiate with President Jair Bolsonaro, without discussing sanctions, but points out that the credibility of the Brazilian leader, known for his negligent environmental policy, will be paved with actions and immediate results, in addition to the demand for a “significant reduction” in deforestation again in 2021.
“Brazil is one of the ten largest economies in the world and a regional leader, the country has a responsibility to lead,” says Kerry.
Called Biden’s climate czar, the former US secretary of state said the United States would closely follow the steps taken by the Brazilian government to deliver on promises made by Bolsonaro at the climate leaders’ summit, called by Biden in April.
“Words must be supported by concrete short-term actions,” said the American.
In his speech last month, Bolsonaro pledged to double resources for environmental inspection, anticipating in ten years the goal of achieving climate neutrality, now by 2050, and pledged to end illegal deforestation by 2030, already provided for in the Paris Agreement.
A day later, however, he slashed the Environment Department’s budget by almost R $ 240 million, which alarmed Kerry.
The American says the Brazilian government has assured him directly that there will be a replenishment, but hopes to confirm the veracity of the promise.
Asked about whether to trust Bolsonaro, who has previously threatened to use “gunpowder” against the United States “when his saliva stops,” Kerry signaled that he does not accept the idea that the Brazilian president has completely changed his position.
“In Brazil, actions and results will show the credibility of the commitments.”
The complacency with Bolsonaro interests Biden, who is trying to consolidate himself as a leader in a new global geopolitical configuration, dictated by the climate. In this scenario, Kerry knows that Brazil is a key figure, with 60% of the Amazon rainforest in its territory, as well as China, the main emitter of pollutants and the great American political rival. “Getting China to do more is essential to our collective climate success.”
Learn about the main parts of the interview.
What is your overall assessment of the Climate Leaders Summit? President Biden, the secretary [de Estado, Antony] Blinken and I were very pleased with the summit, which brought together the world’s major economies to find ways to collectively resolve the climate crisis. The summit was an important step on the way to the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow in November, and we will look to everyone – governments, individuals, civil society, institutions and private companies – to take the lead in the resolution of the climate crisis. I thank all the leaders who attended the summit, including President Bolsonaro.
What did you think of Bolsonaro’s speech at the top? Were the Brazilian President’s promises enough? I found President Bolsonaro’s remarks constructive and useful. Its commitment to achieve carbon neutrality ten years earlier than what Brazil had previously promised is significant, as is the doubling of the resources available for enforcement. [ambiental], a crucial step towards eliminating illegal deforestation by 2030.
It is vital to involve indigenous peoples and traditional communities to protect forests and areas of biodiversity, and I agree with Bolsonaro’s recognition that everyone – countries, companies, entities and people – must be involved to help find solutions. President Bolsonaro’s announcements were an important step, and we will now follow how Brazil is taking steps to implement these commitments and do what we can to support this process.
As in all countries, words must be backed up by concrete short-term actions. We all need to take ambitious steps now to achieve our goals by the end of this year, by 2030 and by 2050. If we are to resolve the climate crisis, we will need a global effort and the whole of society, and that includes the private sector. It is an urgent crisis, but it is also an incredible economic opportunity. I encourage Brazilian business leaders to think about what else they can do that would be good for both the world and their bottom line.
In his speech, Bolsonaro said he would double the resources for environmental inspection, but a day later he slashed the budgets of agencies and programs related to climate change and environmental conservation. How does the US government view this action? The Brazilian government assures us that it discusses the budget internally and that it will find the resources to honor its commitments. Like others, we will seek confirmation that this commitment has been honored.
Was there a country that surprised you positively at the summit, or a country that disappointed you? I was particularly impressed with the announcements from Canada and Japan. And the European Union’s decision to deliver on its 2030 target, in addition to the UK’s 2035 target, is, of course, very encouraging. There have been other notable announcements: 55% of the world’s economies are now on track to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5 ° C, which scientists tell us to do to prevent global warming. most catastrophic effects of the climate crisis. Countries are moving in the right direction, but we need to do more and we need to do it urgently. We have to earn the remaining 45%.
A State Department spokesperson said Bolsonaro took a positive and constructive tone at the summit, but his credibility with the United States will depend on “solid plans and a focus on results.” What are these plans and outcomes? What figure does Brazil have to reach this year in terms of reducing deforestation? President Bolsonaro has pledged to stop illegal deforestation in Brazil by 2030 and achieve climate neutrality by 2050. To achieve any of these goals, Brazil will need to take immediate action to dramatically reduce deforestation in 2021.
Under what circumstances would the United States consider imposing any type of sanction or other punishment on Brazil for the country’s failure to respect the protection of the Amazon? This option is not discussed.
Brazilian Environment Minister Ricardo Salles has directly requested $ 1 billion to reduce deforestation in the Amazon by up to 40% in one year. He said without money up front he would not commit to the numbers. Why did the United States not give Brazil money up front? Is there a timetable for the arrival of the first resources? The United States is committed and will continue to participate in a number of programs in Brazil. Dealing with the climate crisis requires global partnerships with major impacts, and Brazil will be a key partner in finding and implementing solutions to this crisis. Brazil is one of the ten largest economies in the world and a regional leader the country has a responsibility to lead.
The U.S. government recognizes and respects Brazil’s sovereignty in solving environmental problems, and we can build on our strong track record in environmental cooperation to achieve more ambitious goals. I hope to see clear progress towards realizing the commitment to end illegal deforestation, including tangible steps to strengthen enforcement, as well as strong political signals that illegal deforestation and invasion will not be. tolerated.
Despite the tone of the summit speech, Bolsonaro’s environmental policy has always been negligent. Last year, in response to Biden’s suggestion that Brazil could suffer consequences if it didn’t limit deforestation, Bolsonaro said: “When you run out of saliva, you have to have gunpowder.” Why do you think it is possible to trust Bolsonaro? In Brazil, as elsewhere, actions and results will show the credibility of the commitments.
How can the United States pressure other countries on climate change when they are still one of the biggest carbon emitters in the world and have not substantially reduced their own emissions? I recognize that the US federal government’s lack of climate action over the past four years has set us back, but I have also noticed that the US private sector and civil society have continued to move forward. This moment demands bold efforts and solutions. President Biden knows that the stakes in the climate crisis have never been higher than they are today. That is why, soon after his inauguration, he returned to the Paris Agreement and signed a series of executive orders to guide the US government to take bold action at home and abroad to combat the crisis. climate. That’s why, at last month’s summit, he announced a new, more ambitious emissions target for the United States. [reduzir pela metade as emissões de gases de efeito estufa em relação aos níveis de 2005]. I think our new commitments demonstrate that we ourselves are prepared to take the kind of decisive action that we ask others to do.
China and India have not pledged to reach ambitious emission reduction figures for the next decade. How can President Biden’s climate plans succeed without two big emitters? We see India as a strong partner in the innovation we need for the world’s transition to clean energy and we will continue to work with them on climate ambition. China is the world’s largest consumer of coal and is responsible for 30% of global emissions. So, of course, getting China to do more is also essential to our collective climate success.
What advantages does Biden have over former President Barack Obama when it comes to dealing with major crises, given that after Donald Trump there seems to be more appetite in Congress and among the general public for aggressive actions on the climate, the pandemic and the economy? I think you are right that we have seen a major shift in public opinion: there is stronger agreement and support for action at the international, national and local levels. I think many of us in this government have the benefit of experience, combined with an openness to ideas from our colleagues and young friends.
John Kerry, 77
A lawyer and former US Navy officer, he served as Secretary of State under the Barack Obama administration from 2013 to 2017, and Senator and Deputy Governor of Massachusetts. In 2004, he ran for President of the United States for the Democratic Party, but was defeated by George W. Bush. He’s Joe Biden’s special climate envoy