BRASILIA Brazil is considering capping its greenhouse gas emissions at 2005 levels as it finalizes its proposals ahead of December's global climate summit, Environment Minister Carlos Minc said on Tuesday.
Minc said he proposed the target during a meeting with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and several other Cabinet members as Brazil seeks to define this month its final proposal for the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen.
The South American nation is expected to play a key role in negotiations at the Copenhagen summit that will seek to frame a new international treaty on climate change. The U.N. climate talks aim to reach agreement on a post-Kyoto pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are blamed for global warming.
"We can reach 2020 with levels similar to those of 2005, even with (economic) growth of 4 percent annually," Minc told reporters after the meeting.
Brazil emitted roughly 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2005, the bulk of it from Amazon forest destruction. If it adopted no mitigation measures, its emissions would increase to 2.8 billion tons annually by 2020, Minc said.
"There was not much disagreement over the target as such, but there were alternative proposals on how to get there," he said, adding that a final decision could be announced as early as October 20.
Freezing greenhouse gas emissions at 2005 levels would cost Brazil at least $10 billion annually, Minc said.
In a further step to reduce emissions, Lula agreed this week to expand its deforestation targets in the Amazon forest. Brazil now aims for an 80 percent reduction in the deforestation rate by 2020, based on the annual average of 19,500 sq km (7,528 sq miles) between 1996 and 2005.
Its previous target, announced late last year, was to cut the rate 70 percent by 2017.
The burning and decomposing of trees emits greenhouse gases and Amazon destruction accounts for around 70 percent of Brazil's total emissions.
A small group of Greenpeace activists protested outside of the presidential offices on Tuesday, urging the government to aim for zero deforestation by 2015 and increase the use of renewable energies.
"Brazil is one of the world's largest economies and greenhouse gas emitters. It's time it adopted targets in line with its size and responsibility," said Joao Talocci, a Greenpeace climate coordinator.
Amazon deforestation in the 12 months through July is expected to have fallen to around 9,500 sq km (3,667 sq miles), its lowest in 20 years.
Minc, who said he will leave his post in March to run for office in Rio de Janeiro in October 2010 elections, has helped push the Lula administration to adopt stricter environmental controls and is lobbying for more aggressive emissions targets.
During Tuesday's meeting, which included Foreign Minister Celso Amorim and Lula's chief of staff, Dilma Rousseff, participants said Minc appeared to have more support than usual.
"I saw a lot of convergence (among participants)," said Carlos Nobre, climate expert at Brazil's National Space Research Institute. "Lula made it clear Brazil should have a leadership role on climate," he added.