Deforestation freeze unlikely in U.S.-Brazil climate declaration

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 25, 2015 7:37 PM

By Marcelo Teixeira

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - A target date for Brazil to reach zero net deforestation, something climate activists have been asking for, is not expected to be a part of a U.S.-Brazilian joint climate declaration to be issued next week when President Dilma Rousseff visits Barack Obama in Washington, climate specialists say.

The specialists are, however, hoping the two countries will at least announce plans for a bold cooperation to tackle the main causes of deforestation in Brazil, home to the world's largest tropical forest.

Brazil and the United States plan to issue a joint declaration expressing both countries' commitment to the success of the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris later this year.

The text should "indicate what the two countries are willing to do to ensure the summit is fruitful," Brazilian Foreign Ministry official Carlos Paranhos told journalists on Thursday, without giving further details.

Brazil has managed to reduce deforestation sharply in the past 10 years, but close to 5,000 square km (2,000 sq miles) of forests are lost every year.

"It is very clear from conversations I had with members of the U.S. administration that climate change is very high in the agenda for this bilateral meeting," Climate Advisers managing director Michael Wolosin said.

Obama has made significant progress to reduce emissions at home recently, he added, noting that the meeting offers an opportunity for the countries to agree on concrete steps to reduce forest losses.

Tasso Azevedo, a forestry and climate consultant in Sao Paulo, says there is no sign Rousseff will bring anything like a deforestation freeze to the meeting, but he said he believes the United States could play a role on the issue.

"They can put pressure on American corporations to stop buying anything that has links to illegally deforested land."

Azevedo also says he thinks the United States could join results-based mechanisms such as Brazil's Amazon Fund.

The fund receives donations from countries to finance programs to fight deforestation. Results are measured and donors receive certificates related to the amount of carbon emissions they avoided by financing forest preservation.

So far only Norway and Germany contributed to the fund.

Paulo Moutinho, director of the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), says that even if a zero deforestation target is not announced in Washington he expects it to be part of Brazil's INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions), the actions countries are expected to present at the Paris climate talks.

"Brazil has all the elements to do so. We already proved it is possible," he said.

(Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Additional reporting by Silvio Cascione)