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Brazil restores stricter climate goals

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil is reinstating stronger greenhouse gas commitments it made in 2015 as part of the Paris Agreement that were weakened under former President Jair Bolsonaro.

The announcement was made Thursday by the country's Committee on Climate Change, a joint body made up of 18 government ministries. “Brazil is a major actor in helping the planet in this challenging moment," Vice President Geraldo Alckmin said during the committee meeting in Brasilia.

The change will be officially transmitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the international body that works to advance global action on climate change. It tracks each country's Nationally Determined Contribution or commitment to reducing national emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

During the tenure of far-right President Bolsonaro, Brazil backtracked on its Nationally Determined Contribution calculation twice.

The most recent weakening occurred in 2021 and was estimated by the Climate Observatory, a network of numerous environmental and social groups, to increase Brazil’s target emissions by 73 million metric tons of CO2 by 2030. Brazil’s target under the Paris Agreement is 1.2 billion metric tons of CO2.

Releasing its own analysis Friday, the Talanoa Institute, a climate policy-focused think tank, called the restoration merely an initial step, saying bolder commitments are needed.

The Institute said the emissions target process should be opened to society as a whole in contrast to what it called the closed-door decision-making that has taken place up until now. This would enable Brazil to set more ambitious targets, not merely reinstate commitments from 2015, it argued.

Brazil is the world’s fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, contributing nearly 3% of global emissions, according to Climate Watch, an online platform managed by the World Resources Institute.

Almost half of these emissions stem from destruction of trees in the Amazon rainforest, which reached a 15-year high during Bolsonaro’s presidency. The former president dismantled Brazil’s environmental agencies in favor of expanding agribusiness, neglecting preservation efforts.

In a stark turnaround, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has reduced deforestation by 48% for the period from January to August.

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