Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Climate Deal Between the US and Brazil

On June 30th, 2015, the US and Brazil, two of the world's largest emitters of CO2 made major climate pledges including significant emissions reductions pledges. The US and Brazil have led the world with 10 percent and 41 percent emissions reduction below 2005 levels. The new agreements continue this leadership.

The US and Brazil have made these bold pledges ahead of the COP21 climate meeting at the end of the year in Paris. These two nations have also agreed to protect forests (which sequester carbon) and increase renewable energy.

Obama said the deal will contribute to a "strong outcome" in Paris and would help "confront the common challenge we face."

After two days of bilateral meetings between US President Barack Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, the two leaders announced that their countries will work towards getting 20 percent of their electricity from non-hydropower renewables by 2030. The reason hydropower is excluded is due to the fact that it increases methane production.

The deal means that the US has agreed to triple its renewable energy generation capacity. Under the terms of the agreement Brazil will double its renewable energy generating capacity.

Brazil also committed itself to restoring 30 million acres of forests. Brazil pledged to restore 12 million hectares, or 46,332 square miles, of its forests by 2030. The nation has also agreed to enact "policies aimed at eliminating illegal deforestation."

"We want to reach zero deforestation by 2030 in Brazil, zero illegal deforestation by 2030," Rousseff said. Brazil has already reduced deforestation by 80 percent since 2004.

The agreement between the US and Brazil follows other important climate agreements that President Obama has negotiated with China and before that President Obama and French President Hollande came together to call for climate action.

Under President Obama's leadership the US is playing an active role in encouraging nations to engage serious climate initiatives. "What this represents is the way in which U.S. diplomacy is helping get others committed to real change in policy, or in peaking their emissions," said Phil Sharp, president of Resources for the Future.

The deal with Brazil in consort with the agreement reached between China and the US are a vital part of global efforts to combat climate change. 

According to David Sandalow, a former undersecretary at the U.S. Energy Department and now a fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, "These are significant and important steps forward by major countries in fighting global warming, and it’s an important start, although even more will be needed to prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system."

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