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While the United States remains a leader at the global climate talks in Poland, Brazil appears to be playing catch-up to the rest of the world.
Liz Claman, NRO’s America’s Newsroom, reporting Thursday, cites several reports from Brazilian newspaper O Globo that the nation is now the 5th biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.
Brazil’s high deforestation rates have been a source of environmental and human rights problems, as has its heavy reliance on Brazilian biofuels and its desire to sell coal abroad.
“Brazil is a big player in the environment and they know they are a big player. But they also know that they can’t make drastic changes,” says Claman.
Claman says several of the most promising local solutions are struggling because of Brazil’s lack of energy policy.
“The most important one by far for the environment is energy efficiency. They are the 2nd largest producer of wind energy and solar energy in the world but despite this progress, they don’t have serious energy policy. They don’t have serious, forward-looking energy policy that drives innovation and moves ahead in a way that actually makes us all happy in the end.”
The United States has been pushing for a fair and balanced agreement that doesn’t undermine existing agreements and doesn’t grant special provisions to the United States, China and other large emitters. Claman tells Tucker, despite the United States not having a seat at the table, their representatives are doing their part to make it go well:
Tucker: “Brazil is certainly significant. They are relatively rich and economically important. But as Liz says, their government, and the Brazilian government in general has at times pushed a very slow, very, very green path, and I would think that was a burden that people at the U.S. State Department didn’t want to pick up for the American delegation.”
Liz: “Yeah. I think that in this one sense, the U.S. delegation should work with them to make sure the outcomes are in a way that they would like to see, because the Americans are certainly aware of the fact that in the end Brazil may actually have less leverage as a global leader because the rest of the world is better off that they are.”
Claman, who grew up in Brazil, says she takes some comfort in that.
“A lot of us, myself included, say well, you know, we have here a country that’s doing a lot of good. I think that’s true. Brazil has been very strong on fighting deforestation. The problem is that getting an economy growing, making things for people to use, as they would with renewable energy, is the way to go. And that means Brazil still has to figure out how to produce them.”
Claman says big money is also at stake if the world gets a bad deal at these negotiations:
“I think if this becomes one of those people say ‘we can get more out of this process by being more obstructive and making the other side take advantage of us,’ I think that would be a huge mistake. A mistake that could hurt America and it could also hurt the world economically.”
Follow Liz on Twitter: @liberalizclaman