Nov 16, 2022 - World

Lula declares "Brazil is back" on climate action

Brazil's president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks at COP27.

Brazilian president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during COP27 in Egypt on Nov. 16. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty images.

Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced Brazil's return to climate diplomacy after outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro spurned the UN process, and drove up Amazon deforestation.

Driving the news: Lula got a rock star welcome at COP27 in Egypt and forcefully addressed several critical negotiating sticking points, including climate damages.

Zoom in: Lula, which takes office in January, declared "Brazil is back" in the fight against global warming, vowing to crack down on deforestation and "punish rigorously" those illegally cutting down forests for agriculture or mining.

  • He proposed a new ministry for Indigenous groups and pledged to elevate climate change to the highest levels of his nascent administration.
  • He also vowed to rebuild the environmental monitoring and enforcement agencies that Bolsonaro worked to dismantle.
  • Lula harshly criticized the failure of industrialized countries to live up to their 2009 promise of providing $100 billion a year to developing nations to cope with climate change impacts.

Between the lines: Lula addressed a major sticking point at the talks, which is how to deal with the matter of climate damages. Known in the UN treaty process as "loss and damage," this issue concerns the fact that the countries being hit hardest by climate change are the ones that did the least to contribute to it.

  • So far, talks in the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh have yielded no breakthroughs on whether and how industrialized nations like the U.S. should compensate poorer, developing countries for climate damages.

What they're saying: "We cannot postpone this debate, we need to deal with the reality of countries that have their own physical integrity of their territories threatened and the survival conditions of its inhabitants seriously compromised," he said.

  • "It's time to act. We can't waste time anymore. We cannot live with this rush towards the abyss," he added.

Between the lines: Lula is not the only world leader to come to a climate summit and declare their nation was now back on board with addressing the problem. The leaders of Australia, Canada and the U.S. have done so at various points following elections.

  • This illustrates the precariousness of national emissions reduction targets since changes in government can lead to radical shifts in policy.
  • However, Brazil is home to a globally-vital rainforest, which plays a major role in storing carbon as well as circulating water worldwide.
  • Recent studies have shown that a combination of climate change and deforestation is leading at least parts of the Amazon to be net sources of emissions, rather than sinks.

The bottom line: "There is no climate security for the world without a protected Amazon. We will spare no effort to bring deforestation and degradation of our biomes to zero by 2030," Lula tweeted Wednesday.

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