Climate Deal Gains With Brazil Pollution Plan and European Cash

Brazil said it will seek to cut its global warming pollution by 37 percent while France and the U.K. pledged billions of dollars more in aid to poorer countries as world leaders try to build support for an international agreement to tackle climate change.

The announcements during United Nations meetings in New York offered progress on two of the toughest issues in the climate negotiations: whether developing nations would commit to emissions cuts and how much rich nations would provide in financing to help them get there. After a meeting among 30 nations on Sunday, French President Francois Hollande said he was optimistic a deal could be reached when negotiations wrap up in Paris this December.

“There is undoubtedly a will" among countries to reach a deal, Hollande told reporters Sunday. “Everyone is now convinced that there will be an agreement in Paris."

More than 190 nations are expected to sign a pact in Paris binding all countries to cutting fossil-fuel pollution blamed for rising world temperatures. In a UN report last year, thousands of scientists said such warming, left unchecked, could lead to catastrophic changes, from extreme droughts and coastal flooding to disruptions to world food supplies.

Brazilian Target

Brazil’s proposal to reduce carbon pollution 37 percent by 2025 and possibly 43 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels places the country at the head of nations that have proposed greenhouse gas-cutting plans, according to Carlos Rittl, executive secretary of Climate Observatory. According to the World Resources Institute, Brazil is the seventh-largest polluter globally and its target is on par with the 28-member European Union, which has promised at least a 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2030. 

"When we look at the other countries, we are in the right direction," Rittl said. "We can pull other countries to be more ambitious in the climate conference in the end of the year."

Brazil’s plan stands out among major developing countries in that it promises an actual reduction in emissions, rather than simply slowing the growth of pollution. China, the world’s biggest greenhouse-gas emitter, has promised its pollution will reach a peak around 2030 while it reduces the rate of emissions for each unit of economic growth.

‘More Ambitious’

"Our goals are equally or more ambitious than those of developed countries," Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said during a speech to the UN Sunday.

Brazil, home to the world’s largest rainforest and Latin America’s biggest economy, has promised to eliminate illegal deforestation in the Amazon. The country also said it will increase the share of renewables, including hydropower, in its energy mix to 45 percent of its total generation by 2030, up from 39 percent today.

France, meanwhile, will try to address a call from developing nations for more climate aid, Hollande told a UN conference on Sunday. The country will provide an additional $4 billion in foreign assistance, the Associated Press reported, with the funding flowing through a new development bank that Hollande said would be Europe’s biggest.

Earlier in the day, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron promised 5.8 billion pounds ($8.8 billion) in aid to poorer nations dealing with the impacts of climate change. The money has been a key demand of poorer nations, which say they can’t afford to shift from less-polluting but cheaper fossil fuels unless they have financial aid from richer countries.

©2015 Bloomberg News

Lead image: Wetland in Amazon, Brazil. Credit: Shutterstock.

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