Transcript of Conference Call - Minister Teixeira and Ambassador Figueiredo
Monday, November 21, 2011
9:00 AM ET
Operator: Good morning. The Brazil COP17 Briefing Call will start momentarily. A replay of this call will be available toll free at 1-800-406-7325 or at 1-303-590-3030, until the close of Wednesday, November 23rd. Please enter the conference ID 4489310 to enter the correct conference replay. The call will now begin.
Speaker: Thank you, Operator, and good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us for today’s call on COP17 with Brazil’s Minister of the Environment, Izabella Teixeira; and with Under-Secretary General for Environment, Energy, Science and Technology at the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Luiz Alberto Figueiredo. I’d like to turn the call over to Minister Teixeira. Minister?
Minister Teixeira: Thank you very much. Good morning, I’m glad to have this opportunity to dialogue with journalists about COP17. Ambassador Figueiredo and I are here to share our opinions and our points of view considering the challenge that we have with climate change negotiations, and I’d also like to add some comments about Brazil’s performance in our national policy for climate change. As you know, since 2008 we started a new process for our national policy for climate change, and at this moment, we have the creation of Amazon Fund. It’s around $1 billion. Now, we just finalized the first phase of this fund and we’re going to the second phase.
Also, at the end of the year, we have the new national plan for climate change, in which we have set voluntary targets for our emission reductions, and also we had at the end of December 2009, the national policy for climate change. Considering the implementation of the national policy for climate change, we have voluntary targets to reduce around 36% to 38% of our emissions, and also in 2011 a plan in different sectors of our economy to reduce our emissions and to evolve new technologies to advance the development of low carbon technologies and a low carbon economy.
So, considering this historic lens, what we have today is five plans that we have finalized: I have plans to address illegal deforestation in Amazon region. I also have plans for illegal deforestation in the Brazilian savanna, which is called Cerrado, and now I have a national plan for energy generation, I have one for low carbon agriculture, and also a national plan for green charcoal.
Now, we are working hard and the other five historic plans that we are considering are mitigation and adaption for industry, also mitigation and adaptation for transport, and to health, and to fishing, and mining, which leads to a discussion at a national level of the national status of our REDD+ mechanism. We have a separation process, but I’d like to share our vision and our agenda and how we are working together today in Brazil. Ambassador Figueiredo will mention information about the negotiations that Brazil has today for COP17 and I hope that we can have a good dialogue in response to the questions that the journalists would like to ask us. Thank you very much.
Moderator: Thank you, Minister Teixeira and Ambassador Figueiredo. We’ll now open the call for Q&A. Operator?
Operator: Thank you. Our first question comes from Nadia Pontes, Deutsche Welle. Please go ahead.
Nadia Pontes: I would like to hear from you, Minister, your opinion on the Kyoto Protocol. Do you think it’s going to be ready, a text, in order to be voted in this COP17? Do you think there is time for it?
Minister Teixeira: Thank you very much. I’d like to ask Ambassador Figueiredo to say something about the Kyoto Protocol.
Amb. Figueiredo: Thank you. I would like to use the opportunity of this question to expand a little bit on what is the Brazilian vision for COP17 in Durban, and what we would like to see as a good result in Durban. In our minds, there are some key areas in the agenda for Durban that would be the center of interest. One is certainly the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, and I will come back to that issue. The second is certainly the implementation of the Cancun Accord and in that, of course, the whole question of a means of implementation, including the setting up of a fully functional green climate fund in Durban, among other things.
Let me go back to the Kyoto Protocol question. We are working very hard with all partners in order to make possible a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. We feel that the model of response to climate change given by the Kyoto Protocol, meaning a top-down approach, is the one which responds more to what science requires. The survival of the Kyoto Protocol system means the survival of the top-down approach, which in our view is the approach that should guide the future of the international fight against climate change.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Alex Morales from Bloomberg News.
Alex Morales: Yes, I’m going to stick with the Kyoto Protocol. I was wondering if you could give me a sense of what value you think the Kyoto Protocol would have without Japan, Russia or Canada leaving—being largely of the eco-pool European Union, and emissions cuts in Austria and New Zealand maybe, given that that’s only a very tiny fraction of global emissions?
Amb. Figueiredo: Well, it’s not about the fraction of global emission; it’s about the format of the response against climate change. It is important to keep this format alive so that, in the future, this may be used for countries to respond to the climate crisis. We understand that some countries currently in the Kyoto Protocol first commitment period may choose not to participate in the second commitment period. It is unfortunate, but it is their decision. We respect that, but we feel that if some countries are willing to move forward in that context, it is extremely welcome.
Operator: Thank you. The next question comes from Lisa Friedman from ClimateWire. Please go ahead.
Lisa Friedman: Thanks, Minister and Ambassador, for doing this today. I was hoping you could talk about this discussion that people are having about what a long-term agreement might like look like, specifically, if I have this right, that there might be a mandate or something less formal than that coming out of Durban that would get countries on a path to a legally binding agreement. How far apart are countries still on that idea? What is Brazil’s position on that? And I’ve been hearing that Rio+20 could become kind of a Durban. It would be someplace where things could get finished if they don’t get finished in Durban. Can you talk about that?
Amb. Figueiredo: Yes, I can. First to say that Rio+20 has no mandate to deal with negotiations that take part in the context of the climate change convention, nor, by the way, any other convention. So of course, the issue of climate change is an issue that will be very present in Rio, but not an attempt to solve the problem of a specific negotiation. In Rio, hopefully, we will help solve the problem of the climate crisis through action that will lead us to a better future but not the intricacies of specific negotiations.
On the question of the future legally binding instrument that many countries are looking for, we certainly feel in Brazil that the ultimate objective has to be a legally binding instrument that would be robust and, therefore, useful in the fight against climate change. But the idea of a legally binding instrument cannot be an objective to succeed. More important is the content of such a document, so we will work in a very engaged manner in getting robust content so that we have a good legally binding instrument. But at this point in time, what we see is that countries differ on the issue.
Some countries speak of a mandate as a means of signaling that if Europe would remain in a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, they will be assured that the world will move to the direction of a legally binding instrument. Obviously, it is too early to have a mandate on this issue. We still need some reflection on what will be the features of this future instrument. So what I think all agree is that the fight against climate change requires the engagement of all countries, and how best to get this engagement is what we are trying to figure out.
Operator: Thank you. The next question comes from the Valerie Volcovici from Thomson Reuters.
Valerie Volcovici: Good afternoon, with regards to what you said about Brazil favoring the topdown approach, it’s quite clear that the U.S. does not favor that approach and I’m just trying to understand how Brazil plans to negotiate when the second-biggest emitter in the world favors a completely different approach to any future legally binding agreement?
Amb. Figueiredo: Well, that’s part of the soul of any negotiation. You have different positions and you try to find ways of making things happen. What we really think is that the model of a bottom-up approach based on the pledge and review system will not take us to the levels of cuts that are needed in order to keep temperatures below two degrees by the end of the century. So we favor a top-down approach, where science will tell us what is needed and then the exercise will be an exercise of burden sharing. Other countries may not agree with that view, but that’s our view anyway.
Operator: Thank you. The next question comes from Laurence Carmel of Le Monde. Please go ahead.
Laurence Carmel: Hi. Please, I would like to return to the Kyoto Protocol and the mandate that the European Union required to go in another period of Kyoto. I would like to understand very well what you said. You think it’s too early to have a mandate in Durban, but seeing that the European Union, it will be the date of 2015 for the mandate--will you reject it? Is that what you said?
Amb. Figueiredo: No, I didn’t say that. What I said was that some would not favor an immediate mandate now, while others would like to do it now.
Laurence Carmel: In Brazil?
Amb. Figueiredo: We think that we should have a second commitment period that will end in 2020. We feel that well before that, negotiations should be held on the next step, so it is very easy to imagine a certain timeline, and we have been talking about that with various partners, including the EU, on having a timeline that will take us from now, from Durban to a negotiation that may well start when you said, by 2015. So this is absolutely compatible with our view.
Operator: Thank you. The next question comes from Nadia Pontes of Deutsche Welle.
Nadia Pontes: I would like to know, does Brazil feel the pressure coming from developed countries to sign a binding agreement like Kyoto Protocol, like a second-tiered Kyoto; and if Brazil does feel this pressure, how will the country respond to that?
Amb. Figueiredo: Well, it’s an interesting question because pressure is something that a country seldom feels. What you feel is that the next phase of the fight against climate change demands certain kinds of behavior from all parties. We are veryaware of our parts; we are playing our parts. As you know well, we have committed to a very ambitious objective, a voluntary one, in terms of what we will do until 2020, and this commitment became law in my country, so we are legally bound in Brazil to do a number of actions that will take us to the objective that we committed to in Copenhagen. Therefore, we feel that we are really doing our part. We are doing much more than other parties are doing, so the pressure is not exactly on us. Thanks.
Minister Teixeira: I’d like also to mention that, as you remember, that our national reports, they are really, really good—we are doing hard work to implement everything and I mentioned, for example, that Brazil also established a national fund for climate change, using national resources from our oil and gas activities. And this year, we were able to implement this climate change fund. The value is around US$108 million during 2011, and they’re working hard to have more money next year. So, we’re using this fund to finance new low-carbon technologies and also environmental technologies, and also to finance not only mitigation projects but also adaptation projects. This has a national scale, and we are hoping that the fund can be used not only to finance new technologies by also to finance our national industries to be innovative.
So, as I mentioned before, we have really a robust and huge agenda to address climate change, and we are doing our work and working hard and hope that other countries, we are asking that they need to understand that we want more for climate change and I am sure that our national report we can discuss it at the national level with no problems.
Operator: Thank you. The next question comes from Katie Kouchakji from Carbon Finance.
Katie Kouchakji: My question is for both the Minister and the Ambassador. You both have touched on what Brazil is doing at a national level and the plans that the country has. Would you consider the use of market mechanisms or private sector finance to help you achieve your goals?
Amb. Figueiredo: Well, what is clear from our actions, and we have said even in Copenhagen, we are going to be able to do more and faster with adequate financing, so we think that the financing part is an important part in the issue. The market mechanisms—we have used them in the instance of the clean development mechanisms. We feel that in the future, innovative ways of using the market for financing climate change action will certainly be welcome, and we are studying the issue carefully based on what is going on in the negotiations and based on our internal meetings. Thank you.
Operator: Thank you. The next question comes from Alex Morales from Bloomberg News.
Alex Morales: Yes, Ambassador, thanks very much for answering my last question. Just to follow up on that, I’m trying to get my head around what Brazil views would be the process over the next decade. You’ve accepted that some countries probably won’t be part of a second commitment period and you respect their views. Does that mean that you could envisage a situation where you have just the EU and maybe a couple of other countries carrying on until 2020 in a binding way, and then in 2020, a new agreement would come in that brings in a lot more countries, including some more developing countries?
Amb. Figueiredo: What I see is a situation where, yes, it might well happen that the EU and some other countries will take the second commitment period forward, and the next step, the post-2020 step, will certainly have to be negotiated well before it starts. And we certainly see an opportunity for improving the architecture we have so that the international fight against climate change may respond better to what science is telling us. We are going to have anyway in the system a review of current action from 2013 to 2015, and at the same time, we are going to have the fifth assessment report of ICCC, so both things happening at the same time will certainly signal a good time for engaging into a renewed phase of the negotiations, looking at the post-2020 architecture. Thank you.
Alex Morales: And could that involve developing countries, the post-2020 phase, in terms of binding commitment?
Amb. Figueiredo: Yes, developing countries are as bound by the convention as developed countries. Both groups of countries have an obligation to respond to climate change based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, whereby actions by developing countries would be financed in the portion that they are additional. So, this is the current architecture of the convention, and I am sure that this will be the basis of future work in this area, so the fact that all countries will be and should be engaged doesn’t mean that you blur or you abolish the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. Thank you.
Operator: Thank you. The next question comes from Lisa Friedman from ClimateWire.
Lisa Friedman: What’s the mood towards the U.S. going into COP17, between Congress being resistant to financing climate change assistance or anything with the name of climate change on it, and the Obama Administration still having not yet put out a clear path about how they intend to reach their Copenhagen targets?
What leverage do you think the U.S. has this year, and what’s the mood of other countries towards the U.S. this year?
Amb. Figueiredo: The U.S. is certainly a major party in the negotiations, and they are taking actively a part in the negotiations towards Durban. We understand that different countries have different internal requirements. Sometimes the governments have their own challenges that they have to face internally in order to approve things, and this happens in all governments. So, that’s part of the way governments function, and it’s not only the U.S. All countries have to face or have to find ways of approving what they are doing internationally in order to turn it into internal legislation. We understand the challenges, but we also understand the U.S. government is engaged in earnest in the negotiations, and they are a very valuable partner. Thank you.
Lisa Friedman: If I could follow up. When the U.S. says they intend to stand by their commitment to cut emissions about 17% by 2020, does anyone believe the U.S. anymore? Do you believe the U.S.?
Amb. Figueiredo: We are absolutely convinced that the U.S. government will do what they said they would do in Copenhagen. Every time a government, as did the U.S. government commit, to something, we are sure that this government will abide by what it said. So, we are totally confident.
Speaker: Thank you all to participants. This concludes the Q&A portion of our call. Once again, thank you for participating in this event. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact the news bureau team member with whom you have been in touch, or most directly, Katie Lowry at firstname.lastname@example.org with any additional questions.
Operator: A replay of this call will be available toll free at 1-800-406-7325 or at 1-303-590- 3030 until the close of Wednesday, November 23rd. Please enter conference ID 4489310 to enter the correct conference replay. Please email the news bureau team member with whom you have been in contact, or most directly, Katie Lowry at email@example.com with any additional questions.