Climate Change summit: Brazil refuses to sign UN's pledge to slow deforestation

Environment Minister claims her government was 'not invited to be engaged in the preparation process'

David Usborne
Wednesday 24 September 2014 06:45

Brazil has refused to sign an anti-deforestation pledge, dealing a blow to the Climate Change summit in New York.

The Brazilian delegation claimed measures to end illegal deforestation had been drafted behind closed doors at the United Nations without its participation.

The fit of pique gravely undermines the declaration, which was meant as a centre-piece of the one-day summit. The Amazon jungles, “the lungs of the planet”, absorb huge quantities of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming. Logging is the second biggest source of emissions.

Ending deforestation is pivotal to dealing with climate change, the British Development Secretary Justine Greening said in New York. “Putting a stop to deforestation is the smart thing to do,” she said. “Without action, the world will get hungrier, poorer and more dangerous. There is no point building a health clinic for poor people in Bangladesh if it will get washed away by the next floods.”

Brazil’s stance took the summit by surprise. “Unfortunately, we were not consulted,” Brazil’s Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira told the Associated Press. Her government, she said, was “not invited to be engaged in the preparation process” and was merely handed a copy of the text when it was completed.

In just a decade, Brazil has reduced deforestation by 79 per cent, according to The Climate Group. However, last year saw a brief pick-up in deforestation rates, a reversal that some environmentalists have blamed on a relaxation of logging restrictions.

The UN denied freezing Brazil out. “There was no desire to exclude Brazil,” said Charles McNeill, a policy advisor at the United Nations Development Programme. “They are the most important country in this area. An effort that involves Brazil is much more powerful and impactful than one that doesn’t.”

Several nations pledged to slow deforestation, notably Peru. The declaration is meant to form part of a pact for adoption next year.

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