Brazil: the big “goat” on the world climate agenda

IPAM, Sara Pereira in 03/05/2021

With the theme “The Amazon and the new United States climate policy”, the third episode of the OCAA Webinaries series was aired on Thursday (4/29). The event was mediated by the Chief Editor of the Americas Quarterly and senior director of public policy for the Americas Society / Council of the Americas, Cecilia Tornaghi.

The guests discussed the climate agenda proposed by US President Joe Biden and its possible consequences for trade and the environment in the Amazon, in addition to highlighting important points regarding the Summit of Leaders on Climate – an event organized by the American government. on April 22 and 23, in which 40 heads of state presented their goals for combating climate change.

A look at the Summit

According to the director of the “Policy Throughout” project, Natalie Unterstell, despite countries linked to forestry issues announcing little news about their climate agendas, some Amazonian actors positioned themselves well during the Summit, such as Colombia – the only country to present an offer 50% emission reduction.

“But the truth is that the big goat in the room is Brazil. He is the one who needs to post news in environmental terms, and I believe that this is what animated these bilateral and multilateral conversations so much before the summit happened ”, pointed out the director.

According to Unterstell, the movements before the Summit generated two interesting reactions: i) the opportunity that the Brazilian environment minister saw to gain more space and legitimacy in relation to his proposals; and, on the other hand, ii) the response of Brazilian society.

“I believe that we have never seen such strong attitudes here [in Brazil]. There were letters from 24 governors, 55 parliamentarians, 200 NGOs, indigenous peoples and artists asking for caution regarding the credibility and how credible the promises of the Brazilian government are, ”said Unterstell.

Sight punishments?

Regarding the possibility of sanctions on Brazil, if the country does not contribute to the global climate agenda, the professor of International Relations at the University of Brasília (UNB) Eduardo Viola believes that it is unlikely that they will happen in the short term. “Perhaps the first negative effect may come from border tax adjustment [Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism – CBAM] in the European Union, which is likely to be created this year. But in the United States, at least for now, there will be no such proposal, ”he said.

Viola also stressed that if there are retaliations in 2022 (election year) they could lead to a nationalist reaction. “Which, eventually, can strengthen the possibility of [Jair] Bolsonaro’s reelection with the speech of ‘defense of national sovereignty’,” he said.

Like Professor Eduardo Viola, the director of the Columbia University Forum, Nicholas Zimmerman, said he did not see sanctions taking place, at least in 2021. However, according to him, if Brazil continues to deforest, “it is possible that changes in the policy of supply chain in 2022, and we already have an infrastructure of laws that could be used in that sense. ”

Zimmerman pointed out that the Pentagon has already defined climate change as a national security threat during the time of former American President Donald Trump. “Therefore, Joe Biden may, at some point, articulate a series of sanctions and public policies in this sense (…), I do not see it as probable, but I certainly think it possible, depending on the evolution of the negotiations that are at stake today ”, He warned.

To know

The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) or border tax adjustment, mentioned by Professor Eduardo Viola during the webinar, concerns a customs mechanism that is being discussed in the European Union.

The objective of the measure is to impose a surcharge on imports that bring a higher carbon emission intensity in its production chain than the European one. If this occurs, there will be a burden on the exporter. Although CBAM is not yet being debated at the US congress, this agenda may gain strength if it is implemented in the EU.

Soon, the OCAA portal will publish explanatory texts on the concepts of CBAM and the traceability of value chains.

To watch the third full episode of the OCAA Webinaries series, click here.

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