Brazil to play lead role on climate change policy -environment minister

BRASILIA, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Brazil will not shy away from playing a leading role in addressing climate change and the impending emergency the world is facing, new environment minister Marina Silva said on Wednesday.

Silva announced the creation of an extraordinary secretary to end deforestation and plans to set up a climate authority within the administration of President Lula da Silva.

Lula took office on Sunday pledging to stop deforestation in the Amazon, a vital biome to curb climate change. He quickly revoked policies of his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro who eased environmental protection and allowed the rate of deforestation to surge to a 15-year-high on his watch.

"The environmental agenda was destroyed by the previous government," Silva said in a speech as she took office.

"Climate change policy was dismantled to the point that Brazil became an environmental pariah in the world," she said.

Silva, the daughter of Amazon rubber tappers, became a prominent environmentalist and held the same ministerial position for five years during Lula's first and second terms.

She oversaw a significant drop in deforestation at the time, a task she will have to tackle again in helping Lula to fulfill his campaign pledge to stop illegal deforestation.

The minister announced the creation of a green economy department in her ministry, but said the transition to a low carbon economy will not happen overnight.

"It won't happen by magic. We will place the pillars, but we will need resources and partnerships," she said in reference to international assistance that the Lula government is seeking.

Silva said restoring Brazil's prominent role as a environmental leader will help the South American trade bloc Mercosur conclude its free trade deal with the European Union, which had been held up by concerns over uncontrolled Amazon deforestation.

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Peter Frontini; editing by Grant McCool

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