Brazil’s delegation is the largest at COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, with 479 members, surpassing even the United Kingdom, which hosted the meeting in Glasgow.
The list includes at least 57 names that do not belong to any government –federal, state or municipal– or to Parliaments. They are entrepreneurs and representatives of corporate associations, linked to industry and agribusiness.
In addition to the defenders of private interests, the first ladies of Acre, Amazonas, Pará, Mato Grosso and Salvador, two receptionists, two photographers and a bartender are also accredited as part of the official delegation.
Since the beginning of Jair Bolsonaro’s government (without a party), however, Itamaraty no longer includes environmental NGOs, researchers, indigenous organizations and social movements.
“The official delegation cannot include non-government representatives,” he told sheet Ambassador Paulino Franco, chief negotiator of the Brazilian delegation at COP26, when asked about the refusal to accredit NGOs.
But the UN does not restrict the names indicated by countries. And, despite the criteria announced by the ambassador, the government accredited, for example, Erasmo Carlos Battistella, president of BSBIOS, in the biofuel sector, described in articles as “king of biodiesel” and even “Brazilian Elon Musk”.
Other companies that make up the official delegation from Brazil are: ERM, Tancredi group, ComBio Energia, Pátria Investimentos, StoneCrabs, Minerva, Marfrig, Suzano, Raízen and WayCarbon.
The list, available on the UN website for the conference, also includes representatives from the Brazilian Association of Cotton Producers, Unica (Sugarcane Industry Union), Ceará Industry Federation, Abrafrutas (Brazilian Association of Producers and Fruit Exporters), OCB (Organization of Brazilian Cooperatives), as well as ten representatives from the National Confederation of Industry (CNI) and six names from the National Confederation of Agriculture (CNA).
In past administrations, Brazil also had large delegations, but they included representatives from all sectors of Brazilian society — from company presidents to indigenous people and young activists.
Official delegation badges facilitate access to the conference, as the number of credentials for observer organizations is limited by the UN.
This year, despite the difficulties of accreditation and access limitations imposed in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the Brazilian indigenous delegation broke a record, with more than 20 representatives.
The Brazilian black movement also had an unprecedented presence at the COP, with representatives of the Black Coalition for Rights, which defended the titling of quilombola lands as a measure to combat deforestation, criticized environmental racism and pointed out that the climate crisis is also humanitarian.
The discussions took place at the Brazil Climate Hub, a space for Brazilian civil society at COP26 organized by the Climate and Society Institute (ICS), the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (Ipam) and ClimaInfo.
The stand appeared in 2019, when the Brazilian government did not set up an official space to present the country’s initiatives at the COP. That year, the NGOs space even served to host the first conversation of the then Environment Minister, Ricardo Salles, with environmentalists in the country.
At COP26, the Brazilian government wants to present a constructive stance in climate negotiations and maintains a large stand, in partnership with CNI and CNA. Although the space serves appetizers and drinks, the presence of the public is low.
Dedicated to publicizing the official speech, which promises to present the “real Brazil”, the country’s stand holds discussions with government officials and representatives of the private sector.
The NGOs booth brings the opposite scenario: in a smaller room, it is full during most of the programming. On Saturday (6), the audience was double the space’s capacity, and part of the audience needed to follow the event in the hallway.
It was in the space of NGOs that a memorandum was signed enabling the consortium of state governments in the Amazon to receive resources from the Leaf Coalition initiative, in partnership with the United Kingdom and Norway.
In addition to authorities such as the Norwegian Environment Minister, Espen Barth Eide, and the governor of Pará, Helder Barbalho, Francisca Arara, indigenous leader and head of the Department of Standardization and Registration at the Climate Change Institute (IMC), also spoke.
“The dialogue has to be constant and start at the ends, listening to the indigenous people. The agreement will never work if it is done ‘for’ the Indians; it has to be done ‘with’ the Indians,” he said.
According to the Norwegian minister, the governors are strengthening international relations to conserve the Amazon. Asked about the country’s political situation, Eide replied: “There are elements of development that we would like to see differently.”
In Bolsonaro’s absence, governors have articulated partnerships to attract resources to climate projects in the states, through the Governors for Climate coalition, nicknamed by the members of “paradiplomacy”, for exercising parallel representation of the country.
The initiative was inspired by the response that subnational governments, universities and NGOs created in the United States after the election of Donald Trump, who even removed Americans from the Paris Agreement.
Even under the Biden administration, which seeks a leading role in the climate agenda, the US has two independent booths at COP26.
The journalist traveled at the invitation of Instituto Clima e Sociedade.