Call the Cops

What to expect from Latin America as COP27 begins next week.

The city of Sharm-el Sheikh in Egypt will host the 27th UN Climate Change Conference (“COP27”) from 6 to 18 November. For Latin America and the Caribbean the event is an opportunity to set its medium-term priorities with a specific focus on the energy transition, electromobility, strategic minerals, and resilience towards extreme weather events.

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (“ECLAC”) stated that Latin America should focus on addressing the energy transition, in the context of the War in Ukraine, soaring global energy prices, and its long-term potential for job creation and productive change.

One year on from the COP26 Glasgow Climate Pact, countries are expected to show their climate plans. Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Perú, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Mexico, committed to actively combat deforestation in the global aim to curb global warming to 1.5 C but there is little progress to show. In the meantime, they aim to use the summit to attract climate financing and incentives for the promotion of green energy programmes.

The most significant development from Latin America for COP27 is Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (“Lula”) becoming Brazil’s President-elect, which could herald a significant change in the country’s climate policies.

Brazil has fallen out of favour in environmentalist circles, with Bolsonaro being a much-loathed figure who, at best, failed to stop deforestation and, at worst, actively encouraged damaging practices. Greenpeace has publicly called the man “a catastrophe for the environment”. Worryingly, there have been recent reports of a “race” to clear land ahead of Bolsonaro’s premiership ending. Deforestation continues to account for 46% of greenhouse emissions in the country, followed by agribusiness, 27%, and energy-related activities, 18%.

A former official at Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented, “Brazil has a historically important role in the climate debate, and we want to regain that status. We are the fifth largest carbon emitter in the world, and this topic is central to our debate.”

“Brazil has a historically important role in the climate debate, and we want to regain that status.”

Former official, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil

With Lula now President-elect are we about to see a new era of Brazilian leadership on climate change? A report from Carbon Brief thinks so, stating that deforestation rates could fall by around 90% with Bolsonaro out.

Gleisi Hoffman, the head of Lula’s Workers Party, on Tuesday confirmed he would attend COP27 but not as part of the official delegation – Bolsonaro will not attend. The President-elect has previously promised to update Brazil’s Paris Agreement commitments and to appoint a climate envoy. In his campaign, he also touted new collaborations with other rainforest nations to coordinate and accelerate conservation.

An environmental adviser to the Brazilian government explained: “Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi invited Lula to COP27 and his attendance sends a very clear message about the intentions of his presidency – he wants Brazil to return to the international stage, to strengthen multilateralism and demonstrate leadership on climate issues.”

“[Lula’s] attendance sends a very clear message about the intentions of his presidency – he wants Brazil to return to the international stage, to strengthen multilateralism and demonstrate leadership on climate issues.”

Environmental adviser to the Brazilian government

Publicly, Lula said after his election victory on Sunday that Brazil was “ready to reclaim its place in the fight against the climate crisis, especially the Amazon” and he vowed to “fight for zero deforestation.”

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