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Brazil and Germany Take Lead in Tackling Climate Change

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 23 2015 (IPS) - Brazil and Germany, the two largest national economies within their respective continents, are taking the lead in tackling climate change through outstanding policies and bilateral relations, according to experts.

In a joint statement on Aug. 20 in Brasilia, during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit, the two countries vowed to work together for a successful outcome of the Paris Climate Change Conference later this year.

The statement said: “Mindful of the positive impacts of a strong Brazil-Germany cooperation on climate change for the two countries’ bilateral relations and for the multilateral regime under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), President Rousseff and Federal Chancellor Merkel decided to strengthen the bilateral partnership on climate change, by working together towards a successful outcome of the Paris Climate Change Conference later this year and by expanding bilateral cooperation on areas of common interest.”

Such an agreement is part of a new model of international cooperation that is emerging, according to experts.

“International cooperation on climate change needs to occur at many levels; on the multi-lateral level we need a new international agreement under the UNFCCC; smaller groups of countries can come together that wish to go further faster than the UNFCCC allows and bi-lateral relations can build upon the strengths of individual countries and focus in efforts where they have particular interests,” Jennifer Morgan, Global Director of the Climate Program at the World Resources Institute (WRI), told IPS.

Brazil and Germany “both […] very much value their forests and both have vast potential for renewable energy,” Morgan said.

In the Brazilian-German joint statement, the two countries discuss the details of their cooperation in areas of common interest, including environment, trade and investment in the Latin American country. The focus is clearly on combating climate change, especially by way of reforestation in Brazilian’s Amazon rain forest, climate finance and exchange of knowledge and technologies.

While experts underline that bilateral climate talks are a step in the right direction, they express criticism in respect of the scope of climate efforts.

“It would have […] been helpful to have more details from Brazil on its national climate plan, but it will likely announce that later. Having a mixture of negotiation issues and national implementation is helpful,” Morgan said.

“A lot of the content is positive, but we would call it rather timid,” Mark Lutes, Global Climate Policy Advisor at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Brazil, told IPS.

“It falls short of what is required and it falls short of what the potentials of the two countries are to contribute to the problem, to contribute to the solution. We would have liked to see Brazil announce their INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions).”

One of the main commitments of the 22 point joint statement is maintaining the global average temperature below 2.0 °C (35.6 °F) above preindustrial levels.

Brazil and Germany have vast potential for renewable energy and have already made great progress in that field. They use different approaches, while both are quite successful.

By 2030, Brazil wants to restore and reforest 12 million hectares of forest land and reduce deforestation to zero. So far, the country has reduced deforestation in the Amazon biome by 82 percent since 2004, more than any other country.

According to a study conducted by the Californian Earth Innovation Institute, in 2014, the Latin American country achieved remarkable success through public policies, monitoring systems and beef and soy supply chain interventions.

“Brazil has already made excellent progress by dramatically slowing deforestation and protecting land in the Amazon region. Brazil’s commitment to restore 12 million hectares of forests by 2030 will also help reduce emissions and generate economic opportunities,” Nigel Sizer, Global Director Forest Program of the WRI, said in a statement.

Germany has also taken important steps against global warming. The term ‘Energiewende’ describes Germany’s goal to achieve an energy transition from the use of coal and other non-renewable sources to renewable sources only. By 2025, 40 percent to 45 percent of Germany’s energy should come from renewable source.

The current share of renewable sources in Germany’s electricity mix is 27 percent, whereas the country aims at gaining at least 80 percent of its electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2050.

Brazil and Germany are both keen to make COP21 a success. For instance, Germany’s ambitions to reduce emissions are higher than those of the European Union.

“Until now, Brazil is one of the first large developing countries that supports a target like a de-carbonization target or zero emissions […] and we hope this will be precedent for other larger countries to get behind that and have an ambitious long-term target, that can be included in the Paris agreement,” WWF’s Lutes told IPS.

“We hope that as more countries get on board, they can be more ambitious and talk about decarbonizing or zero emissions or 100 percent renewables […], targets like that, that are all necessary, but they’re necessary by around mid-century, not the end of the century,” Lutes pointed out.

“Now is when true leadership is needed from the highest levels,” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement at the Opening of the General Assembly High-Level Event on Climate Change on Jun. 29.

“I pledge to you that I will spare no effort to ensure that the world leaders who are responsible for an ambitious agreement in Paris – and the financing needed to implement it – are directly engaged.” (END)

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