July 13, 2009 / 4:02 PM / 10 years ago

Global climate deal still possible: Brazil's Lula

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Monday that a global climate deal could still be ready by a December summit in Copenhagen despite differences that resurfaced last week between rich and poor countries.

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during a cabinet meeting at Granja do Torto official residence in Brasilia, July 13, 2009. REUTERS/Jamil Bittar

The Group of Eight leading industrial countries agreed on Wednesday at its annual summit to support a goal of cutting global emissions by 50 percent by 2050 and of reducing emissions in wealthy countries by 80 percent.

Developing countries like China, India and Brazil said more short-term targets were needed to make the pledge credible and called for rich country emissions cuts of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

Even though the G8 could not agree with the G5 group of key developing nations on the issue at last week’s summit in L’Aquila, Italy, “the issue advanced substantially”, Lula said in his weekly radio address.

“I think we’ll reach an accord for the Copenhagen meeting in December,” he added.

The United States signed but never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, a climate treaty to be renewed in global talks culminating in the Copenhagen conference in December.

“The United States is assuming the responsibility to discuss this issue, something they haven’t done since the Kyoto Protocol was signed,” Lula said.

Still, Lula said more aggressive reduction targets for emissions by rich countries are a prerequisite for the establishment of a fund to finance carbon sequestration — by planting or preserving forests.

“Otherwise what will happen? The rich countries, which have money, will pay the poor to plant more forests to absorb carbon, while they go on polluting,” Lula said.

He said highly industrialized countries who have been emitting greenhouse gases for more than a century have a responsibility to adopt tougher targets.

“The United States has more responsibility than China; Europe has more responsibility than South America or Africa,” Lula said.

China has replaced the United States as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases because of its fast-growing economy and dependence on coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel.

Brazil also has large emissions due to extensive, albeit falling, destruction of the Amazon rain forest. Burning or decomposing trees emit carbon dioxide.

Last year the Lula government announced a target to reduce the rate of deforestation by 50 percent over the next decade. The government is recalculating its emissions as a basis for possibly adopting targets later this year.

In an interview with Reuters last month, Lula said Brazil “should not be afraid” of adopting emissions targets.

Editing by Todd Benson and Mohammad Zargham

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