Brazil not hosting UN climate talks next year

New government cites financial and budgetary restrictions for withdrawing offer

BRASILIA • Brazil has announced that it is withdrawing its offer to host the COP25 United Nations climate conference next year, citing financial constraints.

The news comes just days before the start of COP24, this year's annual climate conference, which is to be held in Katowice, Poland.

"Considering the current financial and budgetary restrictions, which are expected to continue in the near future, and the process of transition for the recently elected administration... the Brazilian government feels obliged to rescind its offer to host COP25," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who will assume office on Jan 1, has threatened to withdraw Brazil from the Paris climate accord while also vowing to remove restrictions on the agribusiness sector accused of causing untold devastation to the environment, in particular, the Amazon rain forest.

Earlier this month, Mr Bolsonaro appointed career diplomat Ernesto Araujo as his new foreign minister, a man who this week hit out at "climate scaremongering" in an article in the Gazeta do Povo newspaper.

"The Brazilian government has carried out a meticulous analysis of the requirements to host COP25. The analysis focuses, in particular, on the financial necessities associated with hosting this event," added the foreign ministry.

TOP-LEVEL MOVE

It's probably due to the elected government, which has already declared war on sustainable development on more than one occasion.

CLIMATE THINK-TANK OBSERVATORIO DEL CLIMA

COP25 is scheduled to take place from Nov 11 to 22 next year.

Writing in his personal blog, Mr Araujo - a fan of United States President Donald Trump, who has already pulled his country out of the Paris climate accord - hit out at Brazil's political left for "kidnapping the environment cause and perverting it to the point of seizure".

He accused the left of creating a "climate change ideology".

The decision is "regrettable but not surprising", said the climate think-tank Observatorio del Clima.

It added: "It's probably due to the elected government, which has already declared war on sustainable development on more than one occasion.

"It's not the first, nor will it be the last bad news from Jair Bolsonaro."

The think-tank also said Mr Bolsonaro's regime would be "desisting from protecting the population" in denying climate change.

Earlier this week, Greenpeace said deforestation in Brazil was worsening, with an area equivalent to one million football pitches cleared in just one year from August last year to July this year.

Deforestation increased by 14 per cent in that period.

"Every year, we have this news that forest is being criminally deforested," Mr Marcio Astrini, the public policies coordinator for Greenpeace Brazil, told Agence France-Presse.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2018, with the headline 'Brazil not hosting UN climate talks next year'. Print Edition | Subscribe