Negotiators at summit disconnected from political leaders
Brazil’s green reputation hit by surge in Amazon deforestation
Brazil’s negotiators already face a tough job at United Nations climate talks, given anger at President Jair Bolsonaro’s stance on the Amazon, but it has become doubly difficult as they are in the dark on their own government’s aims.
The right-wing leader has become a target for environmental lobbyists since Amazon destruction surged to an 11-year high and terrible fires raged in August, with Bolsonaro’s policies encouraging deforesters and cowing environmental enforcers.
Yet as if that was not enough, Brazil’s technical negotiators at the United Nations talks in Spain are disconnected from political leaders and unclear on their goals, two people familiar with the matter said.
That means the negotiators could reach a deal that would be disavowed by government leaders. “Really what Brazil will do at the conference is anybody’s guess,” one of the sources told Reuters.
Adding to the confusion, Bolsonaro loyalist and Environment Minister Ricardo Salles has turned up in Madrid a week early to attend the full, two-week conference rather than just the second stage with fellow ministers from other nations.
“Only he knows what he’s doing there,” another source said.
As home to most of the vast Amazon rainforest that serves as a bulwark against global warming, Brazil is always a major player at environmental talks and has often been a broker between developed and developing nations.
But its widely-publicized backsliding on domestic protections has changed that, and Brazil’s official delegation in Madrid no longer includes environmental lobby groups whose credentials it traditionally sponsored.