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Business leaders urge Brazil to take lead on climate or be left behind

by Reuters
Monday, 27 September 2021 19:22 GMT

Cattle are seen near burnt trees in Jamanxim National Forest, in the Amazon near Novo Progresso, Para state, Brazil, September 10, 2019. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

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Executives of more than 100 big companies call for action to stop illegal Amazon rainforest destruction and an agreement on rules for global carbon markets at COP26 climate talks

Sept 27 (Reuters) - Executives of more than 100 major companies urged Brazil to take a leading position in U.N. climate talks in November, at a time when Amazon rainforest destruction under President Jair Bolsonaro has made the country an environmental pariah.

The corporate leaders, generally chief executives of Brazilian companies or the Brazilian units of multinational companies, in a joint statement warned that Brazil could be "excluded from a new economic-climate order that is unfolding before our eyes".

The signatories include the local chiefs of e-commerce company Amazon and Shell oil as well as the global chief executives of world's largest meatpacker JBS and planemaker Embraer.

"Brazil should maintain its central position in this dialogue, or risk enormous losses for the productive sector and for Brazilian society," the statement said.

It called for an agreement on rules for global carbon markets, a main sticking point in past U.N. negotiations.

At the most recent major U.N. climate summit in 2019, countries failed to come to an agreement on carbon markets with Brazil, Australia and other countries refusing to drop a demand to carry over credits from old carbon trading schemes.

The letter also urged Brazil to take action to stop illegal Amazon rainforest destruction.

Deforestation and fires in Brazil's Amazon surged after Bolsonaro took office in 2019, causing an international outcry that the right-wing president was not doing enough to stop the devastation.

Deforestation hit a 12-year high in 2020 with an area nearly 14 times the size of New York City destroyed.

In August, Environment Minister Joaquim Pereira Leite signaled a change in policy that included doubling the environmental enforcement budgets and hiring some 700 environmental agency workers.

Bolsonaro told the U.N. General Assembly in a speech last week that Brazil is committed to conservation and vowed to combat illegal deforestation, although environmental groups said they were skeptical that the conciliatory tone represented a real shift in policy.

(Reporting by Jake Spring; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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