By Eduardo Davis
Brasilia, Nov 5 (EFE).- The European Union’s foreign policy chief said here Friday at the conclusion of a two-country Latin American visit that it is essential for the 27-nation bloc and the entire world that Brazil be fully committed to the fight against climate change.
Josep Borrell’s first visit to that region since becoming the EU’s top representative for foreign affairs and security policy in December 2019 came to a close in Brasilia after an initial stopover in Peru, where he expressed the bloc’s respect and support for the “transformation process” being spearheaded by leftist President Pedro Castillo.
He wrapped up his visit to the Brazilian capital by sitting down with Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco, a meeting held in the same week in which Brazil’s upper house of Congress approved a project to adapt some national laws to the terms of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
Borrell told Efe that the Senate’s move is a good sign and also hailed the new, more ambitious greenhouse-gas emissions target that Brazil announced this week, a move that coincided with the ongoing 26th international climate conference in Glasgow.
He added that those steps could pave the way to ratification of a trade agreement between the EU and South America’s Mercosur trade bloc that was announced in 2019 after two decades of negotiations.
The ratification process, however, has hit a snag because some European countries and the European Parliament doubt that rightist Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro – who is backed by agricultural and mining interests wanting to develop the Amazon – has the political will to comply with the agreement’s environmental clauses.
“Brazil is an essential partner,” and both the EU and the world “need it to be committed to the fight against climate change,” said Borrell, who expressed particular concern about high rates of deforestation in the Amazon region.
In that regard, he praised Brazil’s government for its pledge – announced at COP26 – to eliminate illegal Amazon deforestation by 2028 and achieve carbon neutrality (a state of net-zero carbon dioxide emissions) by 2050.
Bolsonaro’s critics, however, say his government’s promises are empty.
“It’s a country with an enormous role in renewable energy. It has low emissions for its size, but very high deforestation rates,” the EU’s top diplomat said, though adding that the targets announced in Glasgow can be a “good starting point” for improving Brazil’s image.
Borrell said he discussed these environmental issues in a brief meeting with Bolsonaro and a longer one with Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos França.
Despite lingering concerns surrounding Bolsonaro, doubts about Brazil’s climate commitment may be erased soon if Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a former center-left head of state who is the clear polling front-runner ahead of the October 2022 presidential election, is voted back into office.
In the final year of Lula’s two-term presidency, government figures showed that 6,450 square kilometers (2,490 square miles) of rainforest were cleared between August 2009 and July 2010, a drop of 14 percent from the previous 12-month period and down 76 percent from a peak of 27,772 sq km in 2003-2004.
But the problem once again has become a pressing concern under Bolsonaro, with 11,088 sq km of rainforest destroyed between August 2019 and July 2020, the highest level of deforestation since 2008. EFE