Brazil Set to Detail Its New 2050 Net-Zero Plan at COP26

Brazil is set to unveil a more ambitious net-zero target and sign a U.K.-led pledge on ending deforestation in a stark turnaround for the administration of climate-skeptic President Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro arrives for the G20 of World Leaders Summit on October 30, 2021  Photographer: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images
By Isis Almeida
November 02, 2021 | 10:03 AM

Bloomberg — Brazil is set to unveil a more ambitious net-zero target and sign a U.K.-ed pledge on ending deforestation in a stark turnaround for the administration of climate-skeptic President Jair Bolsonaro.

The South American nation plans to officially declare its net-zero goal for 2050 — known as a Nationally Determined Contribution — at the COP26 climate talks in Scotland on Monday, said Paulino de Carvalho Neto, the Foreign Ministry’s secretary for multilateral political affairs. Brazil will also join a U.K.-led agreement to halt deforestation and end land degradation by 2030.

The home to the Amazon rainforest has changed its stance on climate and is positioning itself as more flexible in negotiations as the world seeks to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. The Glasgow gathering has been billed as a make-or-break summit to curb global warming, with the U.K. pushing hard for world leaders to raise their climate ambitions.

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“Without a doubt, our greatest challenge will be fighting deforestation,” de Carvalho Neto said by phone from Glasgow on Sunday. “Reducing deforestation will cut our emissions by a lot, so all our efforts have to be concentrated in this area.”

Brazil, which once touted the possibility of leaving the landmark Paris climate agreement, has softened its stance. The change in tone comes as Bolsonaro is up for re-election next year and as national and foreign businesses push the government to take a more climate-friendly approach.

The country also sees a “good chance” of a deal setting out rules for a global carbon market -- known as Article 6 for its place in the Paris Agreement, the official said. In 2019, COP talks in Madrid ended without a compromise, with Brazil and the European Union at loggerheads. Getting those rules nailed down is one of the main aims of the Glasgow conference.

Signing the forest declaration — also backed by the European Union, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo — is a major step for Brazil. It’s been battling claims that it’s destroying the Cerrado area to grow soybeans, and cattle is still being raised in the Amazon.

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“There has been an understanding between Brazil and the U.K.,” he said. “Brazil accepts that it’s our main responsibility to tackle deforestation,” he said, adding that Latin America’s biggest economy would also like to see a similar pledge to end the use of fossil fuels.

Curbing deforestation is also key to regulating rainfall levels, which will be crucial both for hydropower generation and agricultural production. A water crisis this year has hurt coffee crops and forced Brazil to import liquefied natural gas to keep the lights on.

Brazil also plans to announce an increase in its 43% emissions-reduction target by 2030, he said, declining to provide a precise figure. While the cuts still will be from 2005 levels, the basis of that calculation has changed to 2.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, from 2.8 billion tons previously, he said.