Brazil Signals It Can’t Yet Commit to Binding Emissions Target

Brazil signaled it’s not prepared to sign up to a road map leading to a legally-binding carbon emissions target at United Nations talks in South Africa, a key demand the European Union is making at the meeting.

Latin America’s second biggest greenhouse gas emitter after Mexico is open to devising a timeline for a future climate change deal without prejudging what legal form the pact might take, said Brazilian envoy Luiz Alberto Figueiredo.

“We have no problem in looking at a timeline that will take us from here to there engaging in that kind of exercise,” Figueiredo said today in an interview in Durban, South Africa. “The structure of that post-2020 framework will be solved in the negotiations.”

The debate over the EU’s proposal is one of the main sticking points at the talks in Durban that conclude on Dec. 9. Developing nations led by Brazil and China want the current treaty limiting emissions, the Kyoto Protocol, to be extended beyond 2012. The EU says it won’t renew Kyoto unless all nations say when they’d take on mandatory carbon targets.

Asked if Brazil could accept a future agreement that set binding emissions targets for all nations, Figueiredo said, “It’s fine, if that’s the result of the negotiation, fine. I cannot simply say now that we will agree with that if we don’t know now what will be the conditions.”

China's Plan

Chinese delegation chief Xie Zhenhua yesterday told reporters his country could accept a binding deal after 2020 provided five conditions were met, including a second-commitment period of Kyoto. EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said more clarifications are needed from China

Hedegaard in a post on Twitter after her meeting with China wrote, “sometimes messages are more progressive at public press conferences than in negotiation rooms.”

Brazil’s envoy also said that failure to secure a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol in Durban would endanger the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism, a carbon offset market that helps companies to meet their emissions targets through investing in carbon-cutting projects in the developing world.

Without emissions targets, “the CDM unfortunately loses its purpose and we’re very concerned about,” Figueiredo said.