EXCLUSIVE Brazil needs $10 bln a year in aid for carbon neutrality by 2050, minister says

Brazil's Environment Minister Ricardo Salles attends a graduation ceremony for The Order of Rio Branco at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil October 22, 2020. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

BRASILIA, April 16 (Reuters) - Brazil's environment minister, Ricardo Salles, told Reuters on Friday that Brazil would need to receive $10 billion annually in foreign aid in order to reach economy-wide net zero carbon emissions by 2050, instead of 2060 as currently planned.

Salles has regularly called for the international community to pick up part of the check for reducing Brazil's carbon emissions, which predominantly come from deforestation.

His call for $10 billion a year in aid comes as Brazil negotiates a separate potential deal with the United States to rally foreign funds to fight soaring deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. Salles said he does not expect a deal to be announced at next week's U.S. Earth Day summit, but that talks with the United States would continue.

"There is not and was never the objective of negotiating some kind of deal to deliver on April 22," Salles said in an interview.

Reuters reported on Thursday that a potential deal had reached an impasse, with Brazil demanding funding up front to increase efforts to fight deforestation while the United States demanded results before opening its purse strings. read more

"We understand their logic, but they need some understanding that Brazil already has a lot of results," Salles said.

He cited the fact that most of Brazil's forest is preserved, which means emissions from the carbon they contain has been avoided.

Deforestation in Brazil's portion of the Amazon rainforest has skyrocketed under Bolsonaro, hitting a 12-year high in 2020 with an area 14 times the size of New York City being destroyed, government data show.

Salles said just $1 billion per year out of the $10 billion would enable Brazil to reach zero illegal deforestation ahead of the existing 2030 target.

About one-third of that money would go toward contracting more environmental agents, probably drawing from the ranks of the national military police, Salles said.

The other two-thirds would be used to invest in sustainable development of the Amazon region, he said.

"This is what we presented," Salles said, about the proposal to stop deforestation. "In what spirit? You want a plan? Here is a plan."

Bolsonaro on Wednesday sent a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden recommitting Brazil to eliminating illegal deforestation by 2030, a target that the recent surge in Amazon destruction had called into question.

But the letter stopped short of meeting other United States demands that include an immediate decrease in deforestation in 2021 and stepped up environment enforcement.

Vice President Hamilton Mourao, who Bolsonaro has put in charge of Amazon policy, said on Friday that reaching the 2030 target would require a 15-20% reduction in Amazon deforestation every year until then. read more

Mourao said the government is studying extending a military deployment to protect the Amazon if destruction does not come down that much by July.

The expensive military deployment is set to finish at the end of this month, having failed to restore deforestation and fires to levels prior to Bolsonaro taking office. read more

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Jake Spring; Editing by Leslie Adler

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