Strengthening the pledges made on the heals of COP15 earlier this month, Brazilian President Lula signed a bill into law on Tuesday that require his nation's greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced 39 percent by 2020--called the National Policy on Climate Change. Despite the bold action made by Brazil to cut emissions though, which is among the most ambitious, three important provisions in the bill were vetoed, much to the chagrin of some environmental groups. But unlike the disparaging results of COP15, Brazil's new law offers an example for other nations to follow.The bill, which was passed by the Brazil's Senate on November 24, contained strict regulations on industries to ensure the emission reductions stayed on target--including a requirement that fossil fuels be gradually abandoned as an energy source, according a report in O Estado.
What Didn't Make it Through
In signing the bill into law, Lula vetoed three of the most progressive provisions within it, one of which was the phasing-out of fossil fuels. If it were maintained, the country would be prevented in the future for fossil fuels in energy production.
Another section of the law that allowed for a wider allocation of government funds to ensure the reduction target be met was vetoed--removing the possibility of contingencies being used to reduce the gas emissions.
The third veto eliminates the bill's priority for small hydroelectric energy production as a sustainable alternative. As it was written, medium to large hydroelectric facilities were discouraged, mostly due to their greater impact on the ecosystems in which they would be located.
Despite the vetoes, the signing of the National Policy on Climate Change bill, which Brazil has imposed upon itself voluntarily, is still a historic achievement--particularly amongst more developed nations where the notions of similar bills are clouded in debate.
Effective Reductions or More Hot Air?
The Director of Greenpeace in Brazil, Sérgio Leitão, is nevertheless skeptical of Brazil's commitment to enforcing the new bill, of which he says that compliance is voluntary--calling it "nonsense to the old festival of crap that plagues the country."
Brazil usually take a good speech on the international stage, as happened in Denmark. Unfortunately, the practice does not match the speech. First, you need to present more concrete numbers to reduce carbon emissions and a plan that demonstrates the feasibility of real goals. Then you have to show - also with numbers - that deforestation was in the past.
With this new bill, regardless of the criticisms that some like Leitão may have for it, Brazil has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to reduce its carbon emissions without the mandate of an international treaty like the one the environmentalists were hoping would result from COP15. And, with Brazil's National Policy on Climate Change being signed into law, the meddling international community has a good example to follow, and hopefully a peek into the future of what may result from the climate conference in Mexico City next year.
More on Brazil's Climate Pledges
'Disappointed' Brazil Has Strong Words for Obama, China Praise
Brazil Sets A Big Target for Emissions Reductions
Brazil's New Plan to Fight Climate Change
Brazil Announces Plan to Slow Amazon Deforestation by 70%