Brazil to ask Congress to pass Paris climate deal: minister

NEW YORK/SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil’s government will ask legislators this week to ratify the Paris climate agreement, the environment minister said late on Sunday, even as President Dilma Rousseff faces possible impeachment and lacks majority support in Congress.

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff delivers a speech during the opening session of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

It is unclear if Congress would back the pledges of a government that may soon be removed from office. Many lawmakers have left the governing coalition after Rousseff was charged with breaking budget laws to boost her reelection bid in 2014. She has denied the charges.

The government hopes the treaty will be ratified before the next global climate meeting in November, minister Izabella Teixeira said in a phone interview in New York, where she took part in the United Nations signing ceremony for the treaty on Friday.

“We have a political crisis,” Teixeira said. “It is something I’ve never seen in my life. (But) I am confident Brazil will not backslide on climate policies during this time.”

More than two-thirds of Brazil’s lower house voted two weeks ago to recommend that the Senate open an impeachment trial against Rousseff.

If the Senate votes on May 12 to put her on trial, as expected, she would immediately be suspended from office for the period of the proceedings.

“The country has a commitment that goes beyond any specific government,” Teixeira said, adding that she hoped legislators would approve the treaty.

Under its Paris commitments, Brazil pledged to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Fifty-five countries representing 55 percent of global emissions need to ratify the agreement for it to become effective.

Brian Deese, senior advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama, told reporters in a phone briefing on Monday that after Friday’s signing ceremony, 34 countries which account for 49 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions signaled they would ratify the agreement as soon as possible.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici in New York, and Marcelo Teixeira in Sao Paulo; Editing by Jeb Blount and Richard Chang