Lula set to improve Brazil’s climate target

Brazil’s new president Lula is set to improve on the climate target set by his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro, Reuters sources say

Greenpeace activists and Munduruku install solar panels at Dace Watpu village. (Photo credit: Otavia Almeida)


President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva plans to commit Brazil to a more ambitious climate change goal this year, addressing criticisms of the previous target set by his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro, two sources told Reuters.

In 2021, amid growing global outrage over Bolsonaro turning a blind eye to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, his government pledged to cut greenhouse emissions by 50% by 2030, up from a previous commitment of 43%.

But Bolsonaro’s government used a higher, 2005 baseline – a move that made it easier for Brazil to reach its target compared with the previous pledge and that was widely criticized by environmentalists.

Brazilian lobby group Climate Observatory calculated that the Bolsonaro target would allow an additional 400 million tonnes of greenhouse gas to be emitted, compared to the prior target.

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To address those issues, Lula’s leftist government intends to maintain the 50% reduction but fix the issue with the baseline, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Both spoke anonymously as the move is not yet public.

The goal is to issue the revised target, known as a nationally determined contribution under the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, later this year. After the change, the target will be “more ambitious,” one of the sources said.

The government is exploring ways to simplify the target, including issuing the exact number of gigatonnes of greenhouse gas that the country will seek to reduce, the source added.

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Neither Brazil’s Environment Ministry nor a representative for Bolsonaro responded to requests for comment.

Lula took office on Jan. 1 with a pledge to restore Brazil as a global leader on climate change. Bolsonaro had appointed climate skeptics to key positions and presided over soaring levels of Amazon deforestation, the largest source of Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Before he was elected, his environmental adviser Izabella Teixera told Climate Home that he would update Brazil’s climate target if elected. Campaigners called for him to do so in his first 100 days, a deadline Teixera did not commit to and which Lula has now missed.

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