Brazil's elections and the Paris Agreement: are we in or out?
Updated: Nov 21, 2018
We do not believe that Bolsonaro will pull out of the Paris Agreement. However, if he decides to do so, there are legal procedures that could be used to prevent this
By Ana Toni
The former captain and presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro won, on October 28th, the Brazilian Presidential elections, obtaining 55% of the votes, or approximately 57.8 million votes. He takes office for a 4 year-term on January 1st, 2019.
Bolsonaro said in the beginning of the campaign that, if he were to become the President, he would pull Brazil out of the Paris Agreement. He justified his position by suggesting that the Paris Agreement was an international instrument that limits Brazil's national sovereignty, its control over the Amazon and its wealth.
Fortunately, one week before the end of election, he revised his position. He suggested that he would consider staying in the Agreement if he was assured that it would not threaten Brazil’s sovereignty over the Amazon, or the country’s ability to exploit its wealth.
It was not only NGOs and the media that have spoken out against Bolsonaro's intention to leave the Paris Agreement, but also diplomats, sections of the military, leaders of Brazil's modern agribusiness, segments of our industrial sector and many neoliberal economists. All of them understand the benefits for Brazil of staying in the Agreement.
We do not believe that Bolsonaro will pull out of the Paris Agreement. However, if he decides to do so, there are legal procedures that could be used to prevent this. Soon, Brazil will have to confirm its offer to host the COP25 next year. If the new government decides not to host the Conference, this may only mean that climate change is not a priority but it does not necessarily mean that it will leave the Paris Agreement in the future.
Paris Agreement and Amazon
The suggestion that the Paris Agreement could be a “plot to internationalize the Amazon” by creating an international jurisdiction over the region - from the Atlantic to the Andes, has been suggested in the past by different sectors. For example, at the beginning of the negotiations, some sections in the military had a genuine concern relating to Brazil's national sovereignty and security in the Amazon region and its borders. However, Brazil's most experienced diplomats, who obviously also shared these concerns, worked with the military and gave them all the assurances they needed with respect to the Paris Agreement. Many in the Army, who are aware of the huge impact of climate change in the Amazon, now fully support the need to protect the region and believe that the Agreement is an important instrument to achieve this.
Unfortunately, less well-intentioned groups, many of them with obscure interests, continued to raise these false concerns during the election. Spreading this fake news was not only a political tactic – the creation of a false international threat is a common but effective electoral tactic – but also a strategy to deceive the new government and the public. The real intention of these groups was, and still is, to push for the dismantling of the environmental policies that have been put in place to protect the Amazon against illegal interests. These people are not concerned about Brazil´s national interest or its sovereignty; their sole interest is to be able to continue with their particular illegal activities that will destroy the Amazon and Brazil’s greatest asset.
The Paris Agreement was co-created by Brazil’s most able diplomats and staying in the Agreement will bring benefits to Brazil´s economy, now and in the future.