Friday, November 27, 2009

Amazon summit in Brazil

Brazil is hosting a regional summit to discuss climate change and ways of tackling deforestation in the Amazon.

Delegates from eight nations who share the Amazon basin, as well as France which has an overseas department there, have been holding talks in Manaus. They are discussing Brazil's plan on slowing deforestation with the financial help from rich nations.
The meeting comes ahead of a global summit on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark, next month. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is chairing the one-day summit. Delegates from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela and Surinam, are attending, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy is representing French Guiana.

'Ambitious message'

Presidents Sarkozy and Lula said richer nations must increase their aid to help the poorer countries fight global warming. "The poor need to be supported without any country giving up its sovereignty," President Lula said.

The BBC's Paulo Cabral reports from Manaus that for the past few days diplomats have been negotiating a common position to be presented by the Amazon countries and France at the conference in Copenhagen. He says most of the presidents invited did not come to Manaus, though diplomats say that the ministers and ambassadors sent in their place are in position to close a deal. Mr Lula's spokesman said the Brazilian leader hoped that the talks would yield "an ambitious message on issues of great relevance to the region".

"Brazil believes it is crucial for the [Amazon] region to have a converging and co-operative participation," AFP news agency quoted the spokesman as saying. Brazil is proposing to combat deforestation in the Amazon basin with financial backing from wealthy nations. "Let no gringo [foreigner] ask us to let an Amazonian starve to death under a tree," Mr Lula said in a speech ahead of the meeting. "We want to preserve [the forest], but [other countries] have to pay for that preservation."

At the summit, the Brazilian government was expected to present its efforts to reduce destruction in the Amazon as a key part of its strategy to combat climate change. Earlier this month, Brazil's government said the rate of deforestation in the Amazon had dropped by 45% - and was the lowest on record since monitoring began 21 years ago. It said that just over 7,000 sq km (2,700 square miles) had been destroyed between July 2008 and August 2009. Brazil is seeking an 80% reduction in the deforestation rate by 2020.

The environmental group Greenpeace has welcomed the latest drop but says there is still too much destruction in the rainforest. Earlier this month, Brazil said it aimed to cut its carbon emissions by at least 36% below 1990 levels by 2020.

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