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Analysis: Despite ‘weak’ accord, Amazon summit bolsters call for rich to pay up – Reuters

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Governor of Brazil’s Para state Helder Barbalho gestures during the official family photo with leaders of countries attending the Amazon Summit at the Hangar Convention Centre in Belem, Para State, Brazil August 9, 2023. (Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters)

Jake Spring, Reuters

BELEN, Brazil
Energiesnet.com 08 15 2023

Amazon rainforest nations emerged from a summit this week with a stronger hand to play at upcoming United Nations climate talks, despite the meeting’s lackluster final agreement, according to environmental groups.

In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, the Amazon countries dashed expectations for a shared 2030 target to eliminate deforestation, with the accord lacking specific plans to tackle illegal gold mining or provisions for ending oil drilling in the region.

But they united around a demand for rich countries to pay for forest conservation, acknowledging an historic responsibility for climate change – a call joined by other rainforest peers, including Indonesia, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo and others in a second accord on Wednesday.

“It’s not Brazil that needs money. It’s not Colombia that needs money. It’s not Venezuela. It’s nature that industrial development polluted over 200 years,” Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva told reporters at the close of the summit.

“So (developed nations) now need to pay their part to restore a part of what they destroyed.”

Lula will take that message on the road this year at the G20, United Nations General Assembly and U.N. COP28 climate summit.

The Brazilian nonprofit Amazon Environmental Research Institute (Ipam) said the declaration fell short by leaving out a hard target to end deforestation, but it was still important to show a united front among rainforest nations.

“Being united gives strength in negotiations,” said André Guimarães, Ipam’s executive director, in a statement.

Marcio Astrini, head of the nonprofit Climate Observatory, called the declaration “very weak.” But he also applauded the symbolism of the eight Amazon countries meeting together for the first time in 14 years and joining their voices with the world’s other major rainforests.

Lula in particular left the summit as a stronger voice for this bloc, Astrini said.

Although he could not convince Bolivia and Venezuela to match Brazil’s commitment to ending deforestation by 2030, his public efforts are a powerful signal to rich countries, which he has pressed for financial contributions, Astrini added.

STRONGER VOICE

Rainforest nations have a stronger unified voice after the meeting, at least on paper, said Luis Roman, a representative of nonprofit WWF Peru. Now much will hinge on follow-up meetings to discuss implementing the priorities laid out in declarations, such as proposals for funding conservation, he said.

Colombia’s Environment Minister Susana Muhamad said in a statement after the meeting that the alliance’s foreign ministers must come together and make “concrete plans.”

Rainforest nations thus far have focused on past funding commitments. The final joint statement demanded that developed countries make good on a promise to deliver $100 billion annually in climate financing to poorer nations, after missing their 2020 deadline.

They also called for rich nations to meet a pledge to provide $200 billion per year in biodiversity conservation funding by 2030.

The COP28 summit in four months will be a fresh test for those demands.

A European diplomat, who was not authorized to speak to the media, said on the sidelines of the summit that the next step is for rainforest countries to present their plan to tackle deforestation with a figure of how much it will cost.

Only when presented with this will developed countries be able to evaluate the merits of cash transfers on the scale demanded during the Belem summit.

“You have to know where the money is going to be invested, what is the objective, what is the goal, what is the deadline,” Climate Observatory’s Astrini said, echoing the diplomat.

“They need to go deeper and assume commitments.”

Reporting by Jake Spring in Belem; Additional reporting by Oliver Griffin in Bogota; Editing by Brad Haynes and Aurora Ellis

reuters.com 08 1`0 2023

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