(AP, 30.Nov.2018) — Brazil has withdrawn its offer to host a large United Nations conference on climate change next year, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday, leading environmental groups to question the government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions.
Brazil pulled its offer to host the 2019 climate change conference because of “the current fiscal and budget constraints, which are expected to remain in the near future,” the foreign ministry said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.
Environmental groups interpreted the decision as a nod to President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who promised during his campaign to pull Brazil out of the Paris accord on climate change.
Since being elected, Bolsonaro has publicly wavered on those promises. However, climate scientists have said Bolsonaro’s stated intention to open the Amazon for greater development could make it impossible for Latin America’s largest nation to meet its reduced-emissions targets in the coming years.
The World Wildlife Fund in Brazil noted that the decision not to host next year’s conference diverged from the position shared by Brazilian officials before the elections, “demonstrating the strong influence of the transition team.
“Brazil’s participation is vital to meeting global targets, as our country is currently the seventh-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and the Amazon has a key role in regulating global climate,” the group said in a statement.
The Brazilian candidacy to host next year’s meeting was to be reviewed during this year’s conference, which begins this weekend in Krakow, Poland.
The foreign ministry confirmed to AP that Brazil’s current environment minister would attend the meeting in Poland and said it had no information indicating Bolsonaro’s transition team would send any representative.
Bolsonaro, who takes office on January 1, vowed during the campaign to help mining and agribusiness companies expand their activities in protected areas, including Amazonian forests.
His pick for foreign minister, Ernesto Araujo, has also expressed scepticism that climate change is happening.
“This dogma has served to justify an increase in the … power of international institutions over national states and their populations,” the incoming minister wrote in an October blog post.