SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Brazil’s new president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, laid out his vision for the world’s largest rainforest and the future of a warming planet in front of hundreds of supporters during the annual climate talks here on Wednesday.
In a 30-minute speech, he promoted respect for nature, the rights of indigenous peoples and a complete halt to deforestation across Brazil.
“Today I am here to say that Brazil is ready to once again join the effort to build a healthier planet,” he said.
Lula then called for more leadership to reverse rising temperatures and more resources from developed countries so that the poorest and most climate-threatened can deal with the consequences of a problem they don’t have. created. And he decried the stark inequality in how climate impacts are felt across nations based on the size of their economies.
“The fight against global warming is inseparable from the fight against poverty,” he said to applause.
As negotiators here scramble to hammer out a deal on the future of climate action and finance, a crowd too large to fit in one room has gathered in hopes of catching a glimpse of a man which should turn the tide not only for the Amazon but for all of Brazil. biomes.
Some also hoped that Lula could exemplify the kind of leadership needed to tackle a growing climate crisis.
“We think it was not just Lula’s victory or the victory of democracy, but the victory of his indigenous peoples in the sense that we are defending multi-species democracy, we are defending a broader term or idea of environmental democracy. We cannot think of a healthy economy without a healthy environment,” said Edson Krenak Naknanuk, Brazilian head of Cultural Survival, a non-profit organization that defends the rights of indigenous peoples.
The 77-year-old politician’s appearance at the annual climate talks here marks Lula’s first international trip since winning a tight second round at the end of last month. The invitation for a new president was an acknowledgment that the world is eager to see Brazil participate again in discussions about the future of the planet, he said.
“At the end of a fierce conflict, the Brazilian people made their choice and democracy won,” he said. “With this… respect for human rights is back and the commitment to confront the issue of climate change with determination.”
When he entered the room, the participants sang: “Ole, ole, ole, ole, Lula, Lula”, they chanted.
Lula is not yet head of government, but that hasn’t stopped him from negotiating future climate deals in Egypt.
German Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Svenja Schulze said following a meeting with Lula’s team that she would arrange calls immediately after the conference to discuss a Group of Seven agreement to to pay Brazil for the transition of its economy.
“We should talk with the new Brazilian government not only about the energy sector but, beyond that, about a partnership that looks at how to move the economy in a more social and ecological direction,” she said. .
Climate change will be a key priority for the new government, Lula said, calling the massive deforestation that occurred under his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, “something in the past”. In the last three years alone, deforestation in the Amazon has increased by 73% under pressure from mining, forestry and ranching interests. Many pundits feared that another term for Bolsonaro had pushed him to collapse (climate wireSeptember 30).
Lula also vowed to crack down on environmental crimes and strengthen oversight bodies that Bolsonaro dismantled. And he pledged to create an Indigenous Peoples Ministry that would push for policies aimed at peace, security and sustainability.
The 28 million Brazilians who live in the Amazon must be the first agents and beneficiaries of a sustainable local development model, not one that destroys the forest and brings wealth to the few, said Lula.
“Let’s prove once again that it is possible to generate wealth without causing climate change,” he added.
In a nod to the global arena he was addressing, Lula offered to host climate talks in 2025 and called for an overhaul of the UN system to allow for a greater diversity of voices. and representation.
And he even weighed in on one of the most contentious issues in this year’s climate talks: compensation for irreparable climate damage. “We cannot postpone this debate,” he said.
POLITICO Europe reporter Karl Mathiesen contributed.
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