US expects ‘more concrete steps’ from Brazil against climate change

US expects ‘more concrete steps’ from Brazil against climate change
US expects ‘more concrete steps’ from Brazil against climate change

The United States expects “more concrete steps” from Brazil to combat climate change and is willing to “support” the country’s efforts to preserve the Amazon, key to the well-being of the planet, said Joe Biden’s government this week.

“For President Biden, the partnership with Brazil is crucial to effectively address the shared global challenge of climate change,” said the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, after a virtual visit to the United Nations on Monday.

The American Secretary of State also highlighted the “remarkable bilateral economic relationship” with Brazil, which reaches US $ 100 billion per year.

Biden, a Democrat who believes in creating millions of jobs to adapt infrastructure and ensure a clean energy future, invited Jair Bolsonaro to an April 22-23 Climate Leaders Summit.

The virtual meeting “will underline the urgency and economic benefits of taking stronger action” to curb global warming, the White House said of the meeting, for which 40 dignitaries were called.

Brazil, which concentrates more than 60% of the Amazon rainforest that extends to nine South American nations, registered in 2020 the highest deforestation rates in 12 years.

The NGO World Resources Institute denounced on Wednesday that the Brazilian virgin forest lost 1.7 million hectares in 2020, an increase of 25% in one year.

The destruction, which experts attribute mainly to livestock, soy cultivation and the extraction of wood and minerals, threatens the rainforest’s ability to absorb the carbon dioxide that regulates the global climate.

– “Stop deforestation” –

In 2015 Brazil signed the Paris Agreement, the legally binding international treaty on climate change, which aims to limit global warming to 2 ° Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to continue efforts to lower it to 1.5 ° C.

Under the pact, Brazil promised zero illegal deforestation and reforesting 12 million hectares by 2030.

But since taking office in January 2019, Bolsonaro, a far-right populist and skeptical of climate change, has cut funding for environmental programs and presses for protected Amazon lands to be used for agribusiness and mining.

A State Department spokesman told AFP that the United States and Brazil need to work together to combine environmental protection and economic growth.

“In a nutshell: we hope to expand our cooperation and see Brazil take more concrete steps to combat climate change and achieve zero net (carbon) emissions by 2050. And a big part of that is to stop deforestation,” he said.

In its 2020 report, the IMCCS, a group of military and security experts, pointed out that Brazil must make combating deforestation a “priority”.

Oliver-Leighton Barrett, lead author of the report, hopes that the Bolsonaro government “will return Brazil to the path once responsible for environmental and climate imperatives and show that development does not have to be done at the expense of the environment or security.”

– “Partnership in good faith” –

The United States recognizes that economic resources are needed to preserve the Brazilian Amazon.

“We are considering several mechanisms to support Brazil’s efforts,” said the State Department official, speaking about the efforts of Biden’s special climate envoy, John Kerry, to reduce the carbon footprint inside and outside the United States.

During last year’s election campaign, Biden promised to raise US $ 20 billion in all countries to stop Brazil from deforesting and warned of “significant economic consequences” if he does not do so.

Bolsonaro replied with a tweet in capital letters: “Our sovereignty is not negotiable”.

The State Department spokesman pointed out that the United States “respects Brazil’s sovereignty” in the management of the Amazon.

“We came to the table as a partner in good faith to encourage Brazil to achieve more ambitious goals,” he said.

The United States, the world’s first economy and the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China, returned to the Paris Agreement with Biden, after his predecessor Donald Trump abandoned him because he considered it unfair.

Kerry, who signed the pact as Secretary of State for Barack Obama, promised “strong” US climate action commitments to be announced during the Leaders’ Summit.

The United States is responsible for 15% of global carbon emissions, compared to 1% for Brazil, according to the NGO Union of Concerned Scientists.

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