With Little Time Left for Accord Brazil’s Lula Anticipates Trip to Copenhagen

COP15 meeting Negotiators from Brazil and  191 other countries are running against the clock to reach an agreement  with only four days left before the end of the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference. This after a tense start of the week that even led the meeting to be temporarily suspended.

The ministers heading the different delegations are going to consult informally with each other, in an attempt to unlock negotiations for both an agreement that will include the United States and a sort of extension of the Kyoto Protocol.

The ministers are now being replaced by the heads of state that have started arriving in Copenhagen. Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has already left the country headed for Denmark, anticipating his trip by a couple of days.

On Monday, December 14, representatives of African delegations abandoned the negotiation sessions, leading to a temporary suspension of the meeting for approximately five hours. Dissatisfied G77 representatives were demanding that negotiations did not concentrate in a new agreement only, but rather in an extension of the Kyoto Protocol.

Some developing countries are fearful that on dropping out of Kyoto, industrialized countries will dodge commitments that they have already made – such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2%, compared with 1990 emission levels, up until 2012 – and at the same time demand more from emerging countries.

From the perspective of industrialized countries, there is fear of making new commitments under Kyoto that might hinder the economy, whereas the United States – which has not ratified the protocol currently in effect – would escape once again.

Taxing the rich?

President Lula ruled out the idea of increasing tax on products from wealthy nations that refuse to set carbon dioxide emission reduction targets. He rejected the proposal when answering a reader’s question on his weekly column O Presidente Responde (The President Replies), published this Tuesday.

"Even though developed countries are resisting adopting relevant measures for reducing CO2 emissions, Brazil cannot resort to illegal trade measures. Our country must meet the commitments made at the World Trade Organization. Increasing tariffs on products from developed countries alone would be a discriminatory measure," Lula replied to the reader who suggested for the Brazilian government to increase taxes.

Lula underscored that Brazil has made a voluntary commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 36.1% to 39.8% by 2020. According to him, after Brazil announced its target, the United States and China also presented their emission reduction targets.

The heads of delegations of emerging nations established by Brazil, China, India and South Africa met on Monday at the COP-15 to establish a joint strategy to force the rich countries to adopt more daring targets against global warming.

The meeting included the presence of Chief of Staff Dilma Rousseff, and took place at the same time as poor nations – led by the Africans – abandoned several formal meetings, in a clear jamming of negotiations.

Rousseff informed this Tuesday that in agriculture alone Brazil will invest until 2020, US$ 38 billion in practices that take into account the need to reduce CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.

"We are doing our part, but we expect everyone to do theirs. We are committed to the poor countries and we are aware of our huge responsibility going forward," said the Brazilian minister, noting that Brazil expects as a result of Copenhagen, a binding, concrete, ambitious and measurable commitment to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

The leaders of developing nations fear that the advance of negotiations, as they have been conducted over the last 24 hours, should relegate to a second plan the debate regarding more daring targets for Europe, the United States, Australia and Canada.

"For the time being, none of this more daring targets for the rich has been discussed," told Agência Brazil one of the main negotiators of the G77 (the group of poor and developing nations), asking for anonymity.

COP-15 began with the objective of guaranteeing that, at the end of the meeting, the sum of measures announced by the rich nations guarantee a reduction of at least 25% in greenhouse gas, when considering the levels of 1990.

After the meeting with leaders from China, India and South Africa, minister Dilma Rousseff limited herself to saying that the talks were "good" and that negotiations are following a good route.

The executive secretary at the conference, Yvo de Boer, recalled that, apart from the long-term financing to help poor nations to fight global warming and from the more daring targets for developed nations, there is one more fundamental point outside the agenda.

"Methods to inspect and punish those who do not comply with their targets, to be established by the nations that signed Kyoto Protocol, has not yet been discussed," he said.

This list includes the countries of the European Union, but the United States, the country responsible for the main volume of gas emissions on the planet, has not signed the document and has said that it is not going to accept the protocol during the conference in Copenhagen.

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