Brazil will officially communicate to the UNFCCC (acronym in English for United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) the annulment of the climate “pedal” instituted by former president Jair Bolsonaro (PL) in the country’s climate target.
In a meeting on Thursday (14), the Interministerial Committee on Climate Change unanimously approved the correction of Brazil’s most recent target — which is called NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution) — and the return to the level of climate ambition of 2015.
The approval was made shortly before the UN General Assembly, which begins next week in New York. President Lula (PT) will give the opening speech at the event, on Tuesday (19). Marina Silva, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, will also participate in the trip.
It is through the NDC that countries communicate their commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions and, consequently, their participation in the Paris Agreement, signed in 2015.
Brazil had September as the deadline to communicate the update to its target. Despite the correction of the “pedaling”, there will not be, at least at this first moment, an increase in climate ambition, that is, the officialization of the objective of a deeper cut in emissions.
The correction of the climate target is contained in resolution 5 approved by the committee and made available on the website of the Ministry of Development, Industry, Commerce and Services. The text points out that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must communicate to the UNFCCC the resumption of the 2015 target.
A Sheet found that the text of resolution 5 initially released was different. He pointed out that a temporary technical group would have a deadline of 45 days to “correct the emission reduction targets for the years 2025 and 2030 of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), changed by the previous government”.
The 45 days, however, would exceed the deadline (25 September) given by the UNFCCC for countries to communicate the update of their goals.
According to the initial text, the work of such a group would be the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Secretariat for Climate Change.
How the ‘pedaling’ worked in the Brazilian goal
The Bolsonaro government’s climate “pedal” was presented at the end of 2020 by Ricardo Salles, then Minister of the Environment, reinforced in an announcement at COP26 (UN climate conference held in Scotland in 2021) and officially sent to the UNFCCC in April 2022 .
The goal envisaged a 37% reduction in greenhouse gases in 2025, compared to Brazilian emissions in 2005, and a 50% reduction in gases in 2030, also compared to 2005.
Numerically, the 50% cut for 2030 presented by the then Minister of the Environment, Joaquim Leite, in the document to the UNFCCC seemed higher than the previous Brazilian commitment, which was 43%. The problem is that the 2005 basis of comparison has been changed. Due to developments in the methodology for computing emissions, data from 2005 increased.
Therefore, even declaring that the country was increasing its ambition, by raising the cut percentage to 50%, in fact, the climate target deposited by Bolsonaro in the UNFCCC meant that the country would be able to emit more in 2030 than the initial Brazilian commitment allowed. with the Paris Agreement.
In the first national target, the country would emit, in 2025, 1.32 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (a unit of measurement that adds up the gases that cause global warming) and, in 2030, around 1.208 gigatons.
In comparison, in Bolsonaro’s target, Brazil in 2030 would be emitting 1,281 gigatons of COtwoand (read equivalent carbon dioxide), according to analyzes carried out by the Climate Observatory and the Politics for Whole project, from the Talanoa Institute.
According to a 2022 report from UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), Brazil and Mexico were the countries that had backtracked on their climate commitments since the Paris Agreement came into force.
For Natalie Unterstell, president of the Talanoa Institute, correcting the climate target is “no more than the obligation” and needs to be just a start for more ambitious cuts.
“It’s worth remembering that the Paris Agreement talks about progressiveness. We had to, from 2020 onwards, reinforce ambition and we haven’t done that yet”, he states. “So this is the need now: review the entire NDC and do it with high legitimacy, that is, consulting society, involving subnational governments as well.”
In a statement, the Talanoa Institute stated that goals should not be “decided in offices behind closed doors.”
Stela Herschmann, climate policy specialist at the Climate Observatory (network of socio-environmental organizations), also states that it is necessary to advance Brazil’s goal.
“We have finally corrected the climate change, and Brazil is no longer a country that violates the Paris Agreement, but we cannot lose sight of the fact that we are experiencing a climate emergency. The world is in a hurry to maintain the 1.5°C target live, and Brazil is just returning to its 2015 promise,” he says.
This Thursday, in addition to the correction of the Brazilian target, the committee determined the beginning of the NDC review process, which all signatory countries of the Paris Agreement must complete in 2025.
Called the Climate Plan, this review foresees participatory processes for the construction of eight mitigation plans and 14 adaptation plans. According to the Ministry of the Environment, the idea is to reverse the usual process, first building the country’s climate policy and, based on this, communicating the new goal to the UN.
Pressure on the UN and Justice
The first official assessment of the Paris Agreement, released last Friday (8), points out that countries need to increase their efforts, because the planet, at the current rate, is not on track to limit warming to the preferable 1.5°C or at 2°C.
Taking into account announcements at the last climate conference, humanity is headed for a 2.4°C to 2.6°C increase in global average temperature relative to pre-Industrial Revolution levels.
The final text of this first report will be debated with countries at the next climate conference, COP28, at the end of this year in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.
The correction of Brazil’s climate target had already been promised by Lula. In June, the president reaffirmed his commitment to making “due corrections to the Brazilian contribution to the Paris Agreement”.
Also in June, the Federal Court deadline for an agreement between the Brazilian State and young climate activists who were suing the country for “pedaling” the NDC passed. This action, initiated by the Engajamundo and Fridays for Future movements, was started in 2021, during the Bolsonaro government, and inherited by the PT administration.
Ana Carolina Amaral, from São Paulo, collaborated.