On Tuesday June 30 Brazil and the US announced their joint effort to address climate change as part of a visit to the White House by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Both nations have pledged to increase renewable energy targets to 20% by 2030, and Brazil has committed to restoring 12 million hectares (approximately the size of Pennsylvania) and to eliminating illegal deforestation.
President Rousseff stressed the importance of the environmental agenda for both countries, and she stressed she would fight for an ambitious agreement in Paris in December. Latin American Project Director with the Natural Resources Defence Council Amanda Maxwell pointed out that the five months remaining in the lead up to Paris are a chance for both Presidents to show leadership and present strong commitments, and that the focus on renewables is especially important for Brazil given emissions from their energy sector have risen due to higher fossil fuel usage.
The Belo Monte Dam currently under construction will flood an area of rainforest larger than New York City-1,500 km2 and displace 40,000 indigenous people. Prosecutors have recently determined that the construction company had violated terms relating to the relocation of locals in the project area.
95% of Brazilians feel that climate change is impacting their lives and 85% feel that the Government is not acting sufficiently to address it.
Maxwell pointed to a recent poll that showed 95% of Brazilians feel that climate change is impacting their lives and 85% feel that the Government is not acting sufficiently to address it. President Rousseff has been under a lot of political pressure in recent times following an incident involving State-controlled Petrobras, low economic growth and a severe drought in Sao Paulo. An article in the World Politics Review in March revealed that the drought could force the Government’s hand in enacting measures to reduce power and water use, and that the very low water levels in the reservoirs are the combined result of historically low rainfall and the refusal of State and Federal Governments to impose any restrictions on consumption.
Climate change is at the top of both leaders’ agendas following re-election campaigns in recent years and there is also great potential for collaboration and ultimately progress. Brazil has cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 41% between 2005 and 2012, largely as a result of reducing the deforestation rate. It has kept 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere since 2004, which is more than any other country.