04 November, 2009

Brazilian government still to decide about commitments to take to Copenhagen

Amid strong controversies among his ministers, president Lula has supposedly concluded a cabinet meeting, last Tuesday, by saying “we’ll move ahead, but first bring me a consensual policy with figures all of you agree with.”

Sergio Abranches

The decision was postponed to November 14. Meanwhile government officials will try to agree on a set of actions and figures that go beyond the commitment 80% reduction  of deforestation by 2020.

The new commitment would include the agricultural sector (land use change), by means of a program of quality and productivity gains to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. The program could include new production practices, increasing non-tillage farming, and direct seeding; changing use of fertilizers; fighting agricultural wildfire, especially on sugar cane plantations; and recovery of spoiled land to move the agricultural frontier without forcing deforestation.

Another action considered almost fully approved is to ban wood from deforestation in the production of charcoal for steel mills. Government officials are labeling it “green steel”. President Lula has recently criticized private giant iron ore mining company Vale, for not producing steel for export. He and his Chief of Staff (also his presidential candidate to be) Dilma Roussef are staunch supporters of steel production.

Some sources have told me there wasn’t too much conflict over goals or over the idea of an enlarged commitment to be taken to Copenhagen. Most of the divergence centered on figures and procedures. The meeting was adjourned so that the different ministries could get together and agree on both.

The major source of opposition to an extended commitment continues to come from the Foreign Ministry. They argue that the Kyoto Protocol does not impose such obligations on Brazil. President Lula’s political advisors, however, are reported to have said that there is great expectation in the Brazilian society about a new attitude in Copenhagen. The president was apparently sensitive to the argument, because he is very fond of his domestic popularity, and also because he is already looking at the 2010 presidential elections.

Brazil would present a new and more ambitious set of NAMAs – Nationally Appropriated Actions, that, although not considered technically as legally binding commitments, are “quantifiable, reportable and verifiable commitments.”

Although there are those who say the government has already decided to commit only with the 80% reduction of deforestation in the Amazon, I heard from more than one official source that the president wishes to go beyond that.

The expectation is that actions and corresponding quantitative figures, consensually supported by all ministers involved, should be finally evaluated with the president next November 14.

President Lula’s last words were “let’s move ahead, but bring me a consensual policy with figures all of you agree with.”

Tags: , , , , , , , ,