Climate Weekly: Meet Brazil’s new chief diplomat

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Clearing land for cattle ranches is a significant driver of Amazon deforestation (Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT)

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Brazil’s next foreign minister rejects the scientific consensus on climate change, painting it as a leftist conspiracy.

Ernesto Araújo, previously a mid-ranking official, was appointed by president-elect Jair Bolsonaro to the country’s top diplomatic role this week.

He will determine the country’s relationship to the Paris Agreement and potentially preside over the 2019 UN climate talks, which Brazil is in line to host.

Deforestation has already surged in anticipation of looser environmental rules under Bolsonaro, our Amazon correspondent reports.

France has sent one of the clearest signals to counter that trend, aiming to ban deforestation-linked commodity imports by 2030. Trade in soy, beef and other agricultural products is important to the Brazilian economy.

The biggest customer, though, is China. There, the trade war with the US is driving them to buy soybeans from Brazil instead, Dialogo China reports. That is likely to lead to more forest clearance for farming.

Eternal Brexit

More than two years after the UK voted to leave the EU, a draft Brexit deal finally emerged on Wednesday. So now we know what to expect, right? Well, up to a point.

As it stands, Sara Stefanini reports, the UK will stay aligned with EU environmental standards until the end of a transition period in 2021. After that, there could be divergence.

Support for prime minister Theresa May’s settlement with Brussels is shaky at all levels, though. There is talk of a no-confidence vote, general election or even a second referendum, any of which could change the outcome.

The House of Lords has called on the government to clarify how leaving without a deal would affect energy prices.

Climate conversations

EU must not blindly sign up to a weak aviation carbon market – Gilles Dufrasne and Andrew Murphy

G20 countries must break their addiction to fossil fuels – Peter Eigen, Jiang Kejun and William Wills

Ribera vs cars

Spain is undergoing a climate revival, publishing an ambitious draft law on Tuesday.

Natalie Sauer profiled Teresa Ribera, head of the newly merged energy and environment ministry and driving force behind the legislation.

Among other goals, the EU’s second-largest automaker is aiming to ban fossil-fuelled cars by 2040 – a target that brought swift backlash from the industry.

Heine hangs on

Marshall Islands president and climate advocate Hilda Heine narrowly survived a vote of no confidence in parliament on Monday.

In a reminder of island states’ vulnerability to financial predators as well as to climate change impacts, her opponents wanted to turn part of the Pacific nation into a tax haven.

The result will be a relief to organisers of a virtual climate summit happening next Thursday, which Heine is due to launch in Majuro.

Closed shop

Australia is calling on the International Maritime Organization to open up its deliberations to public and media scrutiny, ahead of a council meeting next week.

It matters because the UN body is thrashing out a climate strategy for the shipping sector. Under its current restrictive reporting rules, industry lobbyists are able to resist action largely unchallenged.

So it was surprising to see the Marshall Islands, which has championed a strong climate target, opposing greater transparency, along with the UK, US and Japan.

Read more on: Climate Politics