Brazil's Climate Chief Dampens Hopes for COP16

sergio serra photo

It will be another four months until leaders from around the world gather for COP16 in Mexico, but expectations for the meeting's outcome are hardly optimistic. After last year's UN climate summit in Copenhagen produced a less-than-ideal result, the tone at December's meeting in Cancun is bound to be a bit more subdued -- which may not be such a bad thing, says one climate chief. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Brazil's Ambassador for Climate Change, Sergio Serra, to talk about what the world might expect from COP16.Although he was in the closed-door meetings at COP15 which resulted a rather watered-down accord, Ambassador Serra sees the previous gathering more optimistically than some. "Copenhagen was not an overwhelming failure," he said, "but an important step forward." The reason why so many people were disappointed, he went on to say, is because "expectations were irrationally huge."

This time around, Serra predicts that things will be different. While some may be concerned that less of a media frenzy around the next climate meeting in Cancun will mean things won't be delivered as handily, Serra thinks the meeting will benefit from participants will be under "less pressure" to deliver something dramatic, meaning the negotiations could be aimed at a longer-term strategy.

Still, Brazil's climate chief isn't holding out too much hope for much glowing success in Mexico. Despite noting Obama's even-headed managerial style during closed-door negotiations in Copenhagen, Serra insists that "the Americans won't be ready" at COP16 -- words that echoed strongly as the climate bill was killed in the US Senate later that day.

The shortcomings of some wealthier nations isn't stopping key players in the developing world from making the most of COP16 -- particularly when it comes to REDD, which Serra hopes will help fund safeguards to prevent further deforestation in the Amazon. "REDD discussions have been progressing quite well," he said.

Either way, Brazil's Ambassador for Climate Change hopes to see the world's top greenhouse gas emitters step-up and take responsibility to help fund the developing nations advance green technologies and a sustainable infrastructure at COP16.

Just as Brazil has managed to dramatically decrease the rate of deforestation in the Amazon and to produce 47 percent of its energy from renewable sources over the decades, the nation's climate chief seems fully aware that nothing happens overnight -- but that the world may be, more or less, on the right track.

"Cancun will be another step towards a final result," he said. "The final things will come in South Africa."

More on Brazil and Amazonia
Can Sustainability Grow in a Deforested Rainforest?
A Remote Amazon Oil Facility Tries to Go Green
TreeHugger Reports From the Heart of the Amazon
How Brazil Cut Deforestation Rates to Record Lows

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