On Thursday, 26 November the presidents of France and Brazil came out with a joint statement that rich(er) countries must immediately boost aid for developing nations in efforts towards climate change mitigation and adaptation. They lauded this as an essential key to obtaining a viable agreement in Copenhagen next month.

Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, invited his counterparts in countries straddling the Amazon Basin to meet in Manaus in order to come to a consensus about their views on climate change-related issues in the area (France was also invited since its overseas department of French Guyana is located in the Amazon region). Representatives from Brazil, France, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia and Guyana all participated in the summit. President Nicolas Sarkozy came from France for the meeting with the President of Brazil, but the only other South American president to take part in the Manaus Summit was Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana.

Brazil, which has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by between 36.1 and 38.9 percent from projected 2020 levels, has been seeking a growing role in climate talks and wanted to forge a common position of Amazon countries to take to Copenhagen. Brazilian presidential spokesman, Marcelo Baumbach, stated that for Brazil “it is essential that the Amazon region takes part in the December conference with a cooperative and convergent proposal.”

To this point, during the Summit, representatives agreed to the position that “developing countries should also contribute to addressing the global climate change through mitigation actions according to their national conditions, supported by international funds.” This kind of statement moves beyond Kyoto because it tentatively allows for proposals that require binding targets on developing countries, so long as the developed world helps them financially and through technology transfer.

Even though French President Sarkozy was representing French Guyana during the Manaus summit, as the leader of a developed nation, he spoke from that role as well. During a press conference after the meeting, he hailed China’s new proposals on combating global warming as “extremely encouraging.” He welcomed the USA’s target (announced Tuesday, 24 November) to reduce its emissions 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.

Sarkozy used the examples of the recent proposals put forth by the United States and China towards binding targets as hallmarks of how nations that had not played a strong role in Kyoto were rising to the challenge in this next round of negotiations and really understanding the threats posed by climate change. “The latest statements by Barack Obama and China’s leaders are extremely encouraging in making Copenhagen a success,” Sarkozy said.

Climate negotiators have made little visible progress in sorting out the mechanisms by which rich countries should help poorer ones fight global warming. The European Union states that the cost to help developing nations fight global warming is about $100 billion annually. But developing countries say rich countries should pay between 0.5 percent and 1 percent of their gross domestic product.

Brazil has opened an investment fund to help conservation in the Amazon rainforest but insisted donor countries would have no say in the details of the use of funds. “The poor need to be supported without any country giving up its sovereignty,” Lula said.

20% of GHG emissions come from forest change and destruction annually. Thus, in this round of negotiations it is key to include specific provisions and mechanisms that address forest preservation (which was left out of Kyoto). Inroads are being made via the REDD (Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation in developing countries) proposal.

“We need numbers, not only to reduce the temperature. Copenhagen also needs to provide funds from developed countries for developing countries,” said Sarkozy. “That needs to happen now,” he emphasized.

Climatico (Kelly McManus and Jennifer Helgeson) will be reporting on the progress of REDD during the course of the Copenhagen climate negotiations. They will offer an introduction to understanding REDD. Jennifer will also continue reports on French climate policy throughout the negotiations.

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