Brazil has withdrawn its invitation to host global climate talks next year, according to The Hill, following the election of president-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who has threatened to withdraw the nation from the Paris climate accord.
According to the UN system, the 2019 conference should be hosted by a Latin American nation. Such an event can cost up to $100 million, and while there is time for other nations to volunteer, none have signaled plans to so.
Brazil’s Foreign Ministry said that the decision was made as a cost saving measure, and to accommodate the transition process as Bolsonaro takes office, in a statement to The New York Times.
But the move also aligns with Bolsonaro’s threats during his campaign to back out of the Paris agreement altogether. Though he has reversed course on those plans, Bolsonaro has said he will put commercial interests and economics ahead of environmental concerns. He has stated that he will limit fines for forest destruction and combine the agriculture and environmental ministries, at a time when deforestation of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is at its highest level in a decade.
Bolsonaro’s choice for foreign minister, Ernesto Araújo, has said that the idea of climate change is a Marxist plot to weaken capitalist economies in order to advance the interests of China, a statement that echoes US President Donald Trump’s campaign claim that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
In 2009, Brazil created an ambitious plan to cut carbon emissions and limit deforestation of the Amazon. These efforts gave Brazil, Latin America’s largest nation, a status as a global leader on climate change mitigation.
Carlos Rittl, executive secretary of the Brazilian Climate Observatory, told the Times:
“The image of Brazil is at risk. Climate and the environment are the only issues where Brazil is a leader in global terms. We are not leaders in world trade, we are not leaders in a geopolitical sense on security issues. But on climate and environment we are leaders, and we are giving that up.”
As nations like the US and Brazil step back from leadership roles on climate action, scientists have continued to sound the alarm, with recent reports from both the UN and US government detailing the economic and environmental consequences of unmitigated climate change.
If no Latin American nations volunteer to hold the conference, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change spokesman Alexander Saier said the 2019 conference would be held in Bonn, Germany, which is the seat of the climate secretariat.