SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil raised the pressure on other nations on Friday ahead of a world climate summit, pledging deep cuts in its greenhouse gases over the next decade that would take its emissions back to 1990s levels.
Latin America’s largest economy is committing to cut its emissions by between 36.1 percent and 38.9 percent from projected 2020 levels, Dilma Rousseff, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s chief of staff, told reporters in Sao Paulo.
Brazil’s emissions would drop to near 1994 levels of 1.7 billion tons if the top end of the pledged range is met. That would represent about a 20 percent cut from the 2.1 million tons emitted in 2005.
The pledge, while voluntary and not internationally binding, aims to encourage other nations to adopt aggressive cuts and could make a global deal more likely at the December summit in Copenhagen, which aims to forge a new climate pact.
“With this, Brazil destroys the main argument of the rich countries — that developing countries don’t want to adopt targets,” said Paulo Moutinho, a researcher with the Amazon Institute for Environmental Studies.
“I hope the developed countries are embarrassed by Brazil’s position and adopt more effective targets.”
But Brazil’s proposal contained no specific emissions reduction for industry, meaning much of the weight of the cuts will fall on its vast forestry and agriculture sector.
The cuts, which assume annual economic growth of between 4 and 6 percent, would not hamper Brazil’s economy, Environment Minister Carlos Minc said.
“Brazil will grow and develop. We will create more green jobs, more efficient jobs, a cleaner energy matrix, more efficient agriculture,” he said.
Brazil, among the world’s biggest carbon polluters mostly due to deforestation, has become a major player in climate negotiations after years of rejecting such talks and saying the onus was entirely on rich countries to cut emissions.
Developing nations such as China and India want rich countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
Rich countries in turn have called on developing countries to do their part by cutting emissions significantly by 2020. The European Union wants developing nations to cut projected 2020 emissions by 15-20 percent.
Brazil hopes to nudge other countries to adopt more aggressive emissions targets. But wary of undermining its negotiating strategy, the government says its new goal is a domestic target and not internationally binding.
The talks in Copenhagen aim to reach agreement to succeed an accord adopted in Kyoto to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are blamed for global warming.
“It’s very positive. Finally Brazil is adopting a target. Two years ago it was a crime to talk about an emissions target in Brazil,” said Joao Talocchi, climate campaign coordinator for environmental group Greenpeace.
“It can have a big influence on other countries. The United States called on Brazil to do more and it did, now Washington is in the spot light. It needs to go to the negotiating table in Copenhagen with an aggressive proposal.”
The emissions pledge came a day after Brazil’s government announced that destruction of the Amazon rain forest fell to its lowest level in 21 years.
Additional reporting by Raymond Colitt and Eduardo Simoes; writing by Stuart Grudgings; editing by Paul Simao