COP21, Op-Ed29 November

COP21 begins with leaders segment and sober expectations

Sérgio Abranches

Paris – Expectations seem to be on the rise about a possible Paris climate change agreement. World leaders have learned the lessons from Copenhagen, government aides in the U.S. and in Europe said. They’ve probably learned lesson number one, if not the harder ones. Lesson number one was a simple one: don’t improvise; don’t leave deals unfinished; don’t meet at the end unless you’re going to sign something with substance; beware of the U.N. legal routines. This time they are not going to Paris to close a deal. They are meeting at the very beginning of the Conference, to deliver motivational speeches and to sketch out publicly the basic guidelines for their negotiators. They are not improvising. Their speeches will be full of feasible or done actions, and very few promises, if any. Everybody will play safe. More »

COP 2111 February

The clock started ticking for Paris climate agreement

Sergio Abranches

Country negotiators in Geneva have initiated formal talks ahead of Paris’ COP 21. After only two days of talks, the draft text for a future climate agreement has ballooned to close to 100 pages. Most of the countries added contributions to the original text, making it to more than double its size. Pages added were fewer than the required amount to absorb all visions and interests from all parties to the negotiation. It would have required more than 200 pages to accommodate all countries’ visions. True negotiations will now start aiming at streamlining the text. So far the Geneva environment was calm. It is likely, though, that selecting which demands will enter the text to be sent to Paris would have a greenhouse effect on the climate of negotiations. More »

Analysis20 November

Brazilian carbon emissions up due to failed government policies

Sergio Abranches

Brazilian total greenhouse gas emissions (GGE) have increase 7.8% despite dismal economic growth in 2013. Official emissions data are not annually updated, but a coalition of think-tanks and NGO’s established the Climate Observatory to provide independent yearly estimates of Brazilian GEEs by sectors of economic activity. This independent research endeavor has provided estimates showing the trajectory of Brazilian carbon emissions since 1970 (since 1990 including emissions from deforestation). This increase in emissions reflects a reversal of the downward trend of total emissions observed since 2005, when deforestation rates started to drop sharply. While deforestation represented the major source of emissions, falling deforestation rates would bring emissions down, even if emissions from other sources were growing significantly. Over the last five years this situation has changed very much. More »

Analysis29 October

The Political Economy of Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon

Reduction of climate emissions from deforestation (now known as REDD+) was among the innovations introduced in the Brazilian policy agenda during President Lula’s administration and Marina Silva’s tenure as Environment Minister. Ideas and policies related to reducing deforestation evolved along two different paths that eventually converged: one ideological and the other political. The ideological path started outside governmental circles, initiated by researchers from independent NGOs who used the meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a platform to raise issues and form a coalition strong enough to persuade the government and powerful domestic interest groups to accept an idea they had been opposing since the approval of the Kyoto Protocol. The political path took shape when Environment Minister Marina Silva created a space in 2003 for the open discussion of policies to reduce deforestation, bringing together NGO researchers and government officials. In the political space where the ideological and political paths converged, the decision of the Norwegian government to support the Amazon Fund (Fundo Amazônia), announced at UNFCCC’s COP13 in Bali in 2007, legitimized the idea and contributed to the paradigm shift in Brazilian deforestation reduction policy that eliminated obstacles to the introduction of a REDD+ mechanism as an official policy tool. This paradigm shift represented the abandonment of the official and dominant view of REDD+ as an undue intervention of foreign interests in domestic policy, to the view of REDD+ as a legitimate and legal mechanism of global cooperation to reduce emissions from deforestation. (CGD CLIMATE AND FOREST PAPER SERIES #10)

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Op-Ed13 June

Of discontent, the World Cup, and elections in Brazil

Will the 2014 World Cup in Brazil be the stage for a surge of protest movements as most, particularly the government fear? Nobody can tell for sure. The June 2013 mass protests that created a climate of stress at the Confederations’Cup and led to a downwards trend on presidential popularity were unprecedented and unpredicted. This spontaneous outbreak of discontent, often amplified through mobile communications and social networks, elude the explanations sociologists and political scientists have for mass rallies, riots and other forms of public demonstrations of dissatisfaction all over the world. More »

Article06 December

Hamba Kahle

Photo from the Nelson Mandela Foundation

Photo from the Nelson Mandela Foundation

Sergio Abranches

He fought an oppressive, violent, and illegitimate regime. He wouldn’t comply with laws that were unacceptable, because they promoted institutionalized racism and segregation. He got a life sentence based on those laws, and spent 27 years in jail. The apartheid regime and the tyrannical political system that supported it were defeated by the persistent resistance of the majority he inspired. When he was elected to be South Africa’s first black president Nelson Mandela has chosen to be democratic and communitarian on the best tradition of his Xhosa people. He refused to be vindictive and resentful, as so many others have been in similar circumstances. He was incomparable. The Xhosa tradition is based on Ubuntu that says that sharing and relating with others is the core of our humanness. An isiXhosa saying Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu means that the person becomes a person through other persons. Our fulcrum is our humanness which is realized only through other humans. More »