If the world needed a climate superhero, Brazil’s President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva stepped into the role at the COP27 Climate Conference before a world desperate to be saved from a looming climate crisis.

Promising to work to save Amazonia, he reclaimed the role of Brazil as a climate superpower that would lead the planet to ensure its survival, recognizing that there is no climate security for the world without a protected Amazon.

“I’m here today to say that Brazil is ready to once again join efforts to build a healthier planet,” said Lula in a well-received speech at the Sharm el-Sheik conference, promising to bring to zero Amazon deforestation by 2030.

Putting his recent election in the context of the survival of the Amazon and contrasting with the approach by the government of Jair Bolsonaro who claimed that incursions and use of the forest were part of a necessary economic component to protect it but presided over record deforestation, Lula said, “Brazil has already shown the world the way to defeat deforestation and global warming. Between 2004 and 2012, we reduced the deforestation rate in the Amazon by 83 per cent, while the agricultural GDP grew by 75 per cent.”

Drawing distinction with the status quo and what the world can expect from him, he noted, “In 2021 alone, 13,000 square kilometers were deforested,” and quickly added, “That devastation will remain in the past.”

The message was, Brazil is back in full force, with civilizing values, respect for human rights and the commitment to face climate change with determination.

Indicating a significant change in the defense of the Amazon and emphasizing the urgency of nations of the world signing accords with preservation as a form to combat poverty and hunger across the planet while at the same time demanding they live up to agreements signed in previous conferences, Lula put Brazil front and center in the climate discussions.

“Brazil will be a positive force to face the global challenges. That is what we came to say at COP27. We will be reason of pride for the world,” tweeted Lula before arriving at the conference, as a precursor of the big proposals he would make in his much-awaited speech.

The United States, China, and Russia are some of the world’s biggest polluters and Lula echoed support for the demand of poor nations for the largest polluters to make larger contributions for the protection of the environment, calling for the participation of the largest economies in the Amazon Fund.

“There will be no future as long as we continue digging a bottomless pit of inequalities between rich and poor,” said Lula, calling on the countries that pledged at COP 15 in 2009 to mobilize $100 billion a year to help poor countries face the effects of climate change starting in 2020. “This commitment has not been and is not being fulfilled,” he noted.

“The planet constantly warns us that we need each other to survive,” Lula said. “That we alone are vulnerable to climate tragedy.”

To loud and enthusiastic applause, Lula mixed his promise to fight against deforestation and his call to account for financial commitments made previously with a new vision and reassurance from Brasilia. “I’m here today to reaffirm Brazil’s unwavering commitment to building a more just and supportive world.

Noting the World Health Organisation projection say that climate change could cause some 2,50,000 deaths per year from 2030 to 2050 due to malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and stress caused by excessive heat, and of economic costs due to direct damage until 2030 of between $2 and $4 billion, Lula said flatly, “No one is safe.”

He then noted that Brazil, in the last year, being a world water- and forestry-power experienced the worst drought in 90 years, and we were devastated by floods of great proportions that impacted millions of people.

Emphasizing again that no one is safe, he said “The climate emergency affects everyone, although its effects fall most heavily on the most vulnerable. The inequality between rich and poor is manifested even in efforts to reduce climate change.”

“The richest one per cent of the planet’s population will exceed by 30 times the limit of carbon dioxide emissions necessary to prevent the increase in global temperature from exceeding the target of 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030.”

Cementing a leading role for Brazil in the climate discussion, Lula announced his intent of coordinating with the UN Secretary General so that the next COP conference could be held in Brazilian Amazonia because it would be the only form that people, global leaders, can know in person the concrete reality of the region and not just through lectures.

The Amazon region comprises 59 per cent of Brazil’s land area across eight states— Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Para, Rondônia, Roraima e Tocantins, and part of the state of Maranhão. Lula said the conference would be in the state of Para in the heart of Amazonia.

“We will be increasingly assertive in the face of the challenge of facing climate change, in line with the commitments agreed in Paris and guided by the quest to decarbonize the global economy,” said Lula.

“I also emphasize that in 2024 Brazil will chair the G20. Rest assured that the climate agenda will be one of our priorities.”

Contrasting with the comparative isolation of Brazil under Bolsonaro, Lula said that what he hears most from world leaders is ‘the world misses Brazil.’ “I want to say that Brazil is back,” he said to a superstar-like reception.

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