30 - June - 2015

Brazilian President frustrates call for ambition in joint statement with the US

Commitments announced by Dilma Rousseff in Washington in a joint statement with Barack Obama on climate change fall short of meeting the requirements of science and sound climate policy

Dilma e Obama se atrasam em firmar compromisso por acordo ambicioso em Paris. Foto: Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR
Dilma e Obama se atrasam em firmar compromisso por acordo ambicioso em Paris. Foto: Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR

The Brazilian Climate Observatory, Observatório do Clima, a network of 37 civil society organizations, welcomes the commitment by presidents Dilma Rousseff and Barack Obama to work together to secure an ambitious and balanced agreement at the Paris climate conference. In fact, such demonstration of leadership by two of the world’s seven major emitters of greenhouse gases was long overdue. Both the science and the economics of climate change are clear on the amount of mitigation that needs to be done in order to have a more than 50% chance of keeping global warming below the agreed 2oC limit, and the unbearable costs of delaying action.

Science is also clear on the inadequacy of the 26% to 28% emission cuts by 2025 from 2005 levels proposed by the United States on its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution.

Brazil has not disclosed its Paris goals yet, but Observatório do Clima has set the ambition bar for them: we believe Brazil must establish an upper limit of 1 gigaton of CO2 equivalent by 2030. The targets announced today by President Dilma don’t get us anywhere close to real ambition.

“Stating that Brazil will ‘pursue’ policies aimed at eliminating illegal deforestation is nothing short of ridiculous. What the government is saying by that is that it accepts to coexist with crime for heaven-knows how long. This is an offense to common sense and to what Brazil has already shown it’s capable of on controlling deforestation”, said Carlos Rittl, Executive Secretary of Observatório do Clima. “We must recall that all other tropical countries have already committed themselves to zero deforestation by 2030”, he added.

“The target of restoring 12 million hectares of forests is a good start, especially for a country whose biggest city suffers with water shortages partly caused by deforestation. However, the total acreage of areas which must be restored is twice as big”, said Rittl.

The announced targets for energy – to have 28% to 33% of renewables other than hydropower in the energy mix – also fall short of the necessary level of ambition. “Currently non-hydro renewables already make up 28% of the Brazilian energy mix”, said André Ferreira, CEO of IEMA, an energy policy think-tank based in São Paulo. “According to the latest government projections, they will add up to 29% in 2023. Therefore, the stated target does not mean any important change to the energy matrix. Considering that energy demand must grow around 70% in the next 15 years, it is expected that emissions in the energy sector should reach some 800 million tons of CO2 equivalent by 2030. We believe they can be capped at 617 million tons instead.”

“The proposal to expand the share of non-hydro renewables to 20% in electricity generation means to maintain business as usual. We have already demonstrated that Brazil can do twice as much”, said Ricardo Baitelo, Greenpeace Brazil’s head of Climate and Energy. “The President also gives worrying signs that Brazil will resuscitate its nuclear energy program, which Dilma herself had scrapped in 2011 out of safety concerns.”

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