Brazil has demoted climate diplomacy as part of a foreign ministry shake-up, in Jair Bolsonaro’s first two weeks as president.
The world “climate” has been erased from the organisational chart. The role of deputy secretary for environmental matters has been axed and its portfolio subsumed by the secretariat for “national sovereignty and citizenship affairs”. Staff previously responsible for UN climate negotiations are still there, a source told Climate Home News, but “climate change” is no longer part of the description of their department’s functions. Instead it refers to “protection of the atmosphere”. The move reflects foreign minister Ernesto Araújo’s scepticism toward climate change science and the international response, which he has painted as a left-wing plot. A ministerial spokesperson did not respond to questions. In a note explaining the restructure, the ministry said it would achieve “greater administrative efficiency and resource savings”. Araújo is set to accompany Bolsonaro to the World Economic Forum in Davos next week, in the first test of the administration’s approach to foreign affairs. In recent years, the summit of political and business leaders has flagged climate change as one of the biggest threats to global prosperity. UN chief Antonio Guterres is expected to attend and hammer home that message. NGO network Climate Observatory called Araújo’s restructure “unpatriotic”, saying it diminished Brazil’s soft power and green investment opportunities.
Uncertainty lingers over Brazil’s participation in climate efforts. During the election campaign, Bolsonaro threatened to pull out of the Paris Agreement, but softened his stance after an international outcry. Environment minister Ricardo Salles on Tuesday told national media there was opposition to the Paris deal in government but “for now” Brazil would stay in. “There are important points in the agreement that we want to value, such as those that can bring financial resources to the country,” he said after an event in Sao Paulo, as reported by Agência Brasil. But this should not prevent Brasilia from pursuing its economic agenda, Salles added, outlining plans to open up national parks to private industry. Salles insisted in an interview with Bloomberg last week that on climate change, “Brazil is not a debtor. We’re creditors.”
That is only half true, according to Climate Observatory. The country did much to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation between 2005 and 2012, but since then rates of tree clearance have been creeping up. “It’s not enough for countries to content themselves with looking in the rear-view mirror,” said environmentalist Claudio Angelo. “All countries have to improve their contributions.” Brazil has taken millions of dollars of international support, mostly from Norway, to reduce deforestation. Payments through the Amazon Fund are based on results, though – and donors have expressed concern over backsliding.
[This article originally appeared on climatechangenews.com.]
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are currently engaged in vital talks over the dispute relating to the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile River. While non-African actors are increasingly present in the negotiations, the African Union (AU) is playing a marginal role.
Climate change was more central than ever at this year’s Munich Security Conference (MSC), the leading international forum for senior military, security and foreign policy leaders. The release of the inaugural “World Climate and Security Report 2020” (WCSR 2020) by the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) should help policymakers take effective action.
The mission of the Munich Security Conference is to “address the world’s most pressing security concerns”. These days, that means climate security: climate change is the ultimate threat multiplier, and anyone discussing food security, political instability, migration, or competition over resources should be aware of the climate change pressures that are so often at the root of security problems.
The European Green Deal has made the environment and climate change the focus of EU action. Indeed, climate change impacts are already increasing the pressure on states and societies; however, it is not yet clear how the EU can engage on climate security and environmental peacemaking. In this light, and in the run-up to the German EU Council Presidency, adelphi and its partners are organising a roundtable series on “Climate, environment, peace: Priorities for EU external action in the decade ahead”.