Brazil Gives Poor Countries Free Ride to Rio Climate Conference

The Brazilian government is giving poor nations from Africa and the Caribbean a free air lift to boost attendance at the United Nations conference on sustainable development that it is hosting in Rio de Janeiro.

Aircraft provided by the Brazilian air force and Sao Jose dos Campos-based jet manufacturer Embraer SA (EMBR3) will tomorrow start to pick up heads of state and delegations from 10 countries such as Malawi and Liberia, as well as Barbados and Granada, according to a statement posted on the defense ministry site.

As Europe’s debt crisis rages, with the focus turning to parliamentary elections today in Greece, many world leaders are skipping the Rio+20 environmental conference that’s being billed as the biggest gathering in the UN’s history, drawing more than 50,000 delegates.

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister David Cameron are among those who are skipping the Rio summit even after Brazil changed the conference dates to coincide with the end of Group of 20 leaders’ summit all are attending this week in Mexico.

President Dilma Rousseff’s administration had expected representatives from 120 nations to attend the climate summit, which is commemorating the 20th anniversary of the first earth summit in Rio in 1992. Until last week 102 countries had confirmed they would partake, according to the defense ministry statement.

Last night, only 37 percent of the final document leaders are expecting to sign had been agreed to, Pargati Pascale, the main spokeswoman for the conference, said yesterday. Brazil and the UN are pressing delegates to wrap up their talks by tomorrow night in time to have a final document for heads of state to endorse when they arrive on June 20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Raymond Colitt in Los Cabos, Mexico at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at

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