Brazil Too Distracted by Internal Problems, to Ratify the Paris Climate Agreement?

O Galo da Madrugada, Carnaval do Recife, Pernambuco, Brasil
O Galo da Madrugada, Carnaval do Recife, Pernambuco, Brasil. By Antônio Cruz/ABr – Agência Brasil, CC BY 3.0 br,

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Concerns are growing amongst greens, that climate and CO2 emissions reduction is taking a back seat in Brazil, because of a severe economic slowdown, and massive political corruption scandals which are currently rocking the country.

Political storm clouds outlook for Brazil’s climate change plan

BRASÍLIA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – As at least 130 countries prepare to sign the Paris climate agreement in New York later this month, environmental experts have warned that enthusiasm for climate change action may be waning in Brazil.

The political and economic crises now rocking the Latin American heavyweight could undermine the key role played by Brazil in shaping the new international deal to curb global warming, they say.

“It is very clear that the federal government is struggling for its political survival. As a consequence, the climate change agenda is frozen,” said Carlos Rittl, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory, a Brasília-based coalition of 35 non-governmental groups.

Meanwhile, Brazilians are grappling with a major corruption scandal over a kickback scheme at state-run oil company Petrobras, and hard times after a decade of prosperity. The economy suffered its worst slump for a quarter of a century last year and unemployment is rising.

Brazilian diplomats are expected to attend the U.N. signing ceremony for the Paris climate deal on April 22. But there are growing concerns the country’s woes could thwart efforts to meet the pledges made in its contribution to the global agreement reached in December.

Brazil is among the 188 countries that have submitted climate action plans as part of an international effort to limit global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

But Brazil’s contribution will only become law when Congress ratifies the Paris Agreement.

With discussion among parliamentarians focused on the president’s impeachment, it is highly likely the Paris deal ratification will take longer than it should, Rittl said.

Read more:

Green posturing is a costly, largely self limiting political luxury. The moment real issues arise, such as serious economic problems, domestic political crisis, or both, politicians stop playing and focus their attention on important matters.

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April 12, 2016 5:53 pm

Green posturing is a luxury of affluent societies….where people have the time to pontificate

Reply to  Latitude
April 12, 2016 10:18 pm

Right on lat… the warmist drive is becoming a luxury that can only be afforded in good times..

Reply to  TG
April 12, 2016 11:07 pm

Presumably any climate deal with Brazil will include some reference to the shrinking of their rain forests by logging. It is to be regretted if moves to prevent the destruction of this resource is side-lined.

Reply to  TG
April 13, 2016 12:01 pm

More than that, the whole left-wing agenda is only affordable in good times. But since it tends to destroy good times, it results in oscillations of global consequence. This happens throughout history, as Makers and Takers swap who is in charge. The old Russian Empire was run by Royal Takers, who were briefly replaced by USSR Makers, that then decayed (as such collectives always do) into collectivist Takers (the old saw about “they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work”…) that eventually fell into a capitalist oriented Maker form, that rapidly reverted to an Oligarch Taker form, and is now headed back to… well, you get the idea.
Similar things can be said about most all governments of the world. Greece, for example, was once a great Maker, and is now largely on a slow march off a “Taker cliff” with Makers leaving the country fast. The USA has had one of The most effective Maker oriented systems for a century plus. Then about 1940s or so, we fell (or were pushed) off the Progressive Cliff and have been slow walking to Taker land ever since. Bernie wants to make it a fast dash, Hillary wants a continued brisk walk, most of the Republican field would like to slow to a casual stroll with stops for lunch along the way… but very few want to stop and fewer still want to support a return to a strongly Maker society basis. So it goes…
In California, there have been even stronger pushes to Central Authority and Takerville. Now there’s a $15/hour minimum wage to be phased in over a few years (hope no poor people want to get a cheap lunch at Taco Bell …) and, at least for a while, electricity has been stable (if expensive). But back under Governor Grey “out” Davis, the Dems tried running the electric grid. The result was frequent brownouts and greyouts (thus the name…) and blackouts. Folks adapted by running generators and a load of Makers left for Texas and other States with stable power. (Apple built a large data center in the Carolinas, IIRC. Despite already owning a large center in Napa, Ca. Expensive and unreliable power will do that to you…) So you can pretty much bank on a large and increasing exodus of Makers from California.
The result is a stratified economy, with a barbell shape. A modest number of incredibly rich liberals at the top end, and a very large and growing poverty population at the other. The middle gets moved into the poverty group, or leaves for Makerville elsewhere. At present, something like 25% of Californians are “foreign born”… The locals are leaving and noobs are left with the tab… or the welfare check. Eventually this too will collapse.
Already many movies and TV shows leave the State, or the country, to do filming; despite California having pretty much any terrain you want. It’s cheaper to fly to the other side of the world than to film and pay taxes in California… Semiconductor fabrication left in the ’80s or so – I watched it happen as I was working in that area then. In the 2000s the Silicon Valley essentially collapsed. The hundreds of companies where I used to get contracts for I.T. work became “For Rent” spaces. Now filled with coffee shops and dentists… Yes, there is still Apple and Google and Ebay and a few other giants. But the vibrant inventor / Maker “do it from your garage” climate has never recovered. Venture Capitalists started asking “What is your China Strategy?” and if you didn’t have a “going to China” pitch ready, you got no money. China, at least for a while, having been on a strong Maker path…
So it isn’t any surprise, really, that Brazil is off to the races again. They, too, have had a few turns on the wheel. This isn’t their first rodeo. They were a big Maker land, then went to Takerville as a collective oriented workers paradise, then had a “coup” and military rule, so back to Makers, then again to Takers, then another cycles of coup and back to Makers. They briefly had a “Brazilian Miracle” then. (I made a lot of money in Brazilian stocks from the 80s to 90s). They then had the odd case of electing a Socialist President who promised not to muck with the capitalist economy and continued to thrive. Then they elected a more “pure” socialist and the Takers took over. It’s been downhill since. Brazil will continue into the toilet of Socialism until it gets too bad to stand the stink, then either have another coup (what is this now, the 3rd? 4th?) or decide that maybe having a place where Makers are comfortable is better and elected a sane government. (Don’t hold your breath for it, though. Brazil is known for having a strong socialist leaning culture, like most of Latin America. The only reason that Latin America doesn’t dominate the world, IMHO, is that tendency to rapidly run off the Socialist Cliff as soon as anyone has some money to steal.)
On the global stage, the same process must play out. The UN has become the preferred vehicle (along with the EU) for Central Authoritarians to push for a Global Socialist Agenda. (Most recently via Agenda 21 activities). “Global Warming” is just the vehicle du jour. The desire is “wealth redistribution”, that means stealing from the Makers to give to the Takers. With a large slice going to their pockets along the way (via Swiss banks, or now the more trendy Panama Holding Company…) This will work very well for them, right up until it collapses as the Makers “go Galt” and decide it’s OK to not achieve… or produce. And we all “pretend to work while they pretend to pay us”… like many of the folks in Government today. In Brazil or in the USA.
This election in the USA for President is all about that choice between Takers (Bernie and Hillary) or Makers (Trump and Cruz) or the Decline To State Central Authoritarians (folks like Bush and The Republican Establishment who have been routed so far…). It will determine if the USA “goes Greek” and joins Greece and Brazil in the Socialist Takerville, or holds that off for another decade or two.
The faster the Green Blob gets Agenda 21 and the rest of the Global Socialist Agenda pushed onto the world, the faster we end up in Takerville, and the sooner it collapses around their ears. Unfortunately around the ears of the Makers too… but we recover from it eventually… At some point, folks decide they would rather eat than be in charge and dying.
Unfortunately, I know of no way to prevent such oscillations. The Founders of the USA knew about all this, and built the best system so far to avoid it. Our constitution did a fine job, right up until Congress and The President decided to ignore it (and The Progressives tacked on a few Amendments that broke large parts of it. Most in the ‘teens’ numbers. 16th for income tax, for example.) I can’t think of anything stronger than what they did, and it worked for about 200 years. But now that it is ignored, we are on the wheel with the rest of world governments. Welcome to Takerville in the making. Brazil is our future…

Reply to  TG
April 13, 2016 3:02 pm

More than that, the whole left-wing agenda is only affordable in good times. But since it tends to destroy good times.
Thank you for that thoughtful succinct analyze of the the left wing agenda. It is a must read and one that I will refer back to often.

Reply to  Latitude
April 13, 2016 6:44 am

Not just time to waste, but money to waste as well.

April 12, 2016 6:30 pm

Those sorting out the “Panama Papers” need to hurry and identify “Green” organizations and their “People”, Obama Trusts, benefiting by the “tax shelters” and to what magnitude, per country currency!

April 12, 2016 6:32 pm

i liked that judith curry blog that the failure of cop21 in paris is the beginning of the end of the climate change movement

Donald Kasper
Reply to  chaamjamal
April 12, 2016 11:37 pm

All natural systems seems to behave in terms of bell curves. There is an initiation, ramp up, acceleration, peak, and the increasing decline. Power consumption, resource utilization, biota populations, and public interest in issues all follow this cycle (just a few examples, as the curve behavior is common in many biological systems). So it is quite natural for climate concerns to follow this. The only breakout to the decline in interest to oblivion will occur when a climate prediction actually comes true in our lifetime. Abstractions and centurion predictions don’t create sustainable public interest. They need to see action on the ground. So it was not COP 21, but just a natural rollover. It is clear from the rhetoric that the peak has occurred. The blame is on bogeymen like Exxon and Kochs because a broad lack up public interest as a natural psychological reaction means Green agendas will require totalitarianism, that is, submission to draconian regulations with no public support. Engaging in that will result in a fast and ugly fate to Green agendas, as they will soon find out. In the meantime, they are out to attempt to threaten the public and declaring them stupid. This stopgap won’t work. Political parties spending vast sums of money and enormous rule creation and enforcement with rapidly declining public interest leads ultimately to revolt and revolution, or the end of such agendas. Either way, the Green climate movement is headed to oblivion. Jumping from ecosystem preservation and pollution to climate was just a bad move. Very much like the decision aircraft companies had back in the 50’s to keep with propeller engines or go to turbojet engines. Those who chose to stay with propellers all went under. At critical junctures the right decision has to be made, else the company or technology or social movement, drops dead. Calling vast numbers of people stupid or duped is not a winning strategy as it is used to hide the lack of data supporting a Green climate cause.

Reply to  Donald Kasper
April 13, 2016 1:08 am

@ donald, There are still some highly successful turbo prop manufactures on the planet, In third world nations they are being used all the time. ( Saab, Bombardier and many others)

Reply to  Donald Kasper
April 13, 2016 6:46 am

Donald stated that the turbo-prop drove the piston driven propeller engine out of the market.
He said nothing about a demise of the turbo-prop.

April 12, 2016 6:34 pm

Here’s tipping there will be many more middle ranked countries seeing this for what it is. The UK is clearly showing right now what the future holds if we follow this path to madness. A folly too far!

Paul Westhaver
April 12, 2016 6:35 pm

I am not a student of Machiavelli but based on what limited knowledge of him I have, it would seem appropriate to called the creation of internal division and conflict a Machiavellian ploy to distract the people from their collective unimportant obsessions.
The racial strive, dis-employment, and polarization in the USA at the hand of Obama has yieldED a similar result. Nobody really cares about AGW anymore.

Javert Chip
April 12, 2016 6:48 pm

On the other hand, back to Brazil…an “emerging” country of 200M+ mostly poor people who began to move up the economic ladder with a huge oil discovery. Geez, they even got the World Cup & 2016 Olympics.
Then those same 200M+ get slimed by massive political corruption, and slide back down the poverty pole.
Hard to get enthusiastic about CAGW if you’re worried about your next meal.

Reply to  Javert Chip
April 13, 2016 2:23 am

Believe it or not, Brazil’s equality gap is smaller than the United states gap. I spit out my coffee when I read that.
Of course it relates to astronomical earnings of top US fund managers and CEOs but still.

Evan Jones
Reply to  Mark
April 13, 2016 3:24 am

Believe it? Believe it. The smaller the “equality” gap, the worse off it is for the poor.
When did the “gap” increase? The Glory that was Greece. The Grandeur that was Rome. The Medieval recovery. The Enlightenment. The Industrial Revolution. The Information Age.
When did it decrease? The sack of Rome. The Dark Ages. The Mongol Hordes. The Black Plague. The Depression of 1837. The Panics. World War I. The Rise of Communism. The Great Depression.
So, when were the poor better off? When were they worse off? History provides the answer. What was, was. What is, is. Human nature is.
One can spitball over the sins of man. One can indulge in despair, envy, and hand-wringing. But for what? A rising tide lifts all boats. Never, ever equally, but those are Good Times for the poor. When the gap narrows, well, for the poor, those are times of despair.
Look at the plight of the poor in counties where the wealth gap is small. Look where it is large. Where would you choose to be poor? Back in the 1980s when I was poor and my friends were poor were bad times for me. But when I was poor in the early 2000s, my friends were well off — and, as a direct result, I never missed a meal.

Reply to  Mark
April 13, 2016 6:48 am

Very few CEO’s earn “astronomical” amounts. Ditto for the fund managers.

Reply to  Mark
April 13, 2016 4:01 pm

There is a fundamental economic reason for this. It is called Marginal Propensity To Invest (or to save).
Rich people save and invest. This grows economies.
Poor people consume all they make (and with welfare payments, even more than they make).
For an economy to grow, it must have investment and that can not come from the poor.
Socialism tries to substitute The Government for rich people as the investors, but it falls to corruption; as shown in Brazil now. Politicians make bad investors, worse business managers, and lousy custodians of wealth. Voters assure this by voting for themselves “the largess of the public purse” in democracies (which is why Plato? classed it as a bad form of government and why The Founders created the USA as a Republic with an unelected President reporting to Congress and Senators appointed by the States… The Amendments that made those elected positions were not an improvement…)
So due to the marginal propensity to invest and fundamental sloth and corruption of governments, economic prosperity only survives where rich people can thrive.
I don’t have to like reality to understand it… and economics is called The Dismal Science for a reason…

April 12, 2016 6:49 pm

I think of Rio as the Ankh-Morpork of South America; really interesting from a safe distance.
Brazil worked really hard on self sufficiency. The trouble was that the government was more of a hinderance than a help. It isn’t without its success stories though. The country has embraced open source technology.
If Brazil ever gets its crap together, it will be a real powerhouse.

Owen in GA
Reply to  commieBob
April 12, 2016 7:21 pm

The problem is they have a bunch of would be Vetinari’s, only without anywhere near the skill or insight into real human nature.
Until nations embrace private property as a permanent fixture of their societies, there will be no improvement in the developing world.

Leonard Lane
Reply to  Owen in GA
April 12, 2016 10:21 pm

And other basic freedoms.

Reply to  Owen in GA
April 13, 2016 6:50 am

It has been argued that without private property, all the other freedoms are impossible.

Reply to  Owen in GA
April 13, 2016 6:51 am

For example, of what use is freedom of speech when the govt owns all the newspapers and TV stations?

Reply to  commieBob
April 13, 2016 6:49 am

Self sufficiency for a country is a trap that always results in poverty in the end.

Reply to  MarkW
April 14, 2016 1:58 pm

One needs a certain degree of self sufficiency to ensure one’s security.
NATO relied on a system that used vacuum valves long after there were any NATO countries that still manufactured vacuum valves. The result was that they had to order spares from the Soviets.
We are now in the position that we rely on China for strategic goods. In terms of economics that’s OK. In terms of survival it isn’t.

April 12, 2016 8:09 pm

it only takes 55 countries representing 55 percent of emissions to sign up for the agreement to come into force… US, China & India have declared they will be signing, plus it’s expected something like 130 countries will be represented at the 22 April signing at UN NQ in New York:
11 Apr: WaPo: Chris Mooney/Juliet Eilperin: Obama’s rapid move to join the Paris climate agreement could tie up the next president
If the nations of the world, led by its two biggest contributors to climate change, jump through all the hoops needed to bring this agreement into force before President Obama leaves office, the next U.S. president could have a difficult time — or at least, a long wait — if he or she wanted to get out of it…
It’s important to note that in earlier drafts of the Paris agreement being negotiated last year, it contained language suggesting that it couldn’t have entered into force so soon. Todd Stern, the U.S.’s special envoy for climate change and the agreement’s chief negotiator, noted on the March 31 press call that these earlier drafts had said it would not enter into force before 2020. “But that language fell out of the final draft,” said Stern, “so as soon as you hit that double threshold [55 countries representing 55 percent of emissions], the agreement is in force. And that could potentially happen this year.”…
Granted, even if an unsympathetic U.S. president couldn’t formally withdraw immediately, that doesn’t mean that his or her hands would be overly tied by the agreement. That’s because when it comes to delivering actual emissions cuts, the agreement largely relies on the individual commitments by the world’s nations…READ ON
Christiana the financial adviser:
12 Apr: ClimateChangeNews: Ed King: Paris climate change pact to come into effect ‘by 2018’
UN’s outgoing climate chief says late change to text means agreement could be enforced well before 2020, raising hopes world can avoid dangerous climate change
“You heard it here first. I think we will have [it] in effect by 2018,” Christiana Figueres told an audience at Imperial College, London.
Late in last December’s UN talks, a collective decision was made to scrub references to 2020 as a start date for the deal said Figueres, who leaves her post in July…
“Paris is only a blueprint – difficult as it was it took the entire world to contribute – that was the easy part,” said Figueres.
“Now we come to the difficult part. Now we have to be intentional about every investment… are we making a choice towards more carbon?
“If you are still putting your money into high carbon, I’m sorry, you are going to lose your money,” she added.

Reply to  pat
April 12, 2016 8:38 pm

it only takes 55 countries representing 55 percent of emissions to sign up for the agreement to come into force
And every last country will R&R (Ratify and Renege). Either by gaming the system or by walking away when the cuts become painful.
Dear voter, we’re asking you to choose either;
A) food now, maybe climate change later, or
B) no food now, less climate change later (maybe)
Pick one.
While the average westerner can probably afford to shed a few pounds, the teaming billions of the 3rd world have no such luxury.

Reply to  pat
April 13, 2016 2:24 am

It’s non binding and no mechanism of enforcing other than what Kerry called “public shaming” lol

Reply to  Mark
April 13, 2016 7:18 am

A president like Obama will find a way to enforce it.

April 12, 2016 9:32 pm

While the Brazilians have real problems, they do seem to be dealing with them in a constiutional manner (impeachement is constitutional) rather than a coup or a revolution. We in the US have the chance to avoid that sort of problems by not electing either Hilary or Bernie.

Reply to  Tom Halla
April 13, 2016 10:29 am

Where have you been; every government in South America that is leaning towards the BRICKS are slated for regime change. I want to travel from Vancouver to Moscow on a high speed Magtrain in my life time, Go BRICKS.

Reply to  Lee
April 13, 2016 4:18 pm

What is BRICKS?
BRICKS Building Resources for Integrated Cultural Knowledge Services (EU FP6 program)
BRICKS Basic Research in Informatics for Creating the Knowledge Society (Netherlands)
BRICKS Bosnian Resource Information Centre and Kosovar Support

Claude Harvey
April 12, 2016 9:48 pm

Seems the equivalent of pestering a guy to sign your petition to ban crabgrass while he’s in the midst of battling a fire that is consuming his house.

James Francisco
Reply to  Claude Harvey
April 13, 2016 8:17 am

More like asking him to not waste so much of his water on the fire.

April 12, 2016 9:54 pm

The Thomson Reuters Foundation summary of the Brazilian “internal” state of affair is of course biased in multiple ways: 1) they are a hot bed of green themselves -Sir Crispin Tickell anyone?-, 2) Reuters has been one of the servile media to Washington NATO expansionist plans, helping designing tools to monitor economic effect of sanctions on Russia and, being caught many times for their accuracy level in reporting stories on Ukraine for instance… 3) One of the key reason Brazil is under attack is because it is a BRIC country and the Petrobras affair has mostly to do with the sub salt play that was initially excluding foreign oil and gas companies, i.e. US giants from a huge, profitable play.
As usual, the propagandist media wears the green mask to hide the real deed of their master, that is to confiscate by hook or by crook oil, gas and mining reserves from other countries, including Eurasia and of course South America.

Reply to  TomRude
April 13, 2016 2:26 am

Very accurate assessment

April 12, 2016 10:09 pm

In developing country like Brazil, congress is needed to ratify Paris climate deal. In US, Obama don’t need congress or senate … his words are supreme.

April 12, 2016 11:07 pm

Brazil would do well to concentrate on tackling major corruption scandals at home, taking steps to reverse the slide in the Brazilian economy, and restoring employment, rather than throwing money at so-called Climate Change boondoggle.
Brazil can safely leave the Green posturing (which is a luxury of affluent societies) to the morons in the EU.

April 13, 2016 2:13 am

The moment real issues arise, such as serious economic problems, domestic political crisis, or both, politicians stop playing and focus their attention on important matters.
You cannot be serious!
Politicians only focus on getting and keeping political power.

Reply to  Leo Smith
April 13, 2016 2:27 am

Only long enough to make sure the nest is feathered, and those of their backers

Reply to  Leo Smith
April 13, 2016 6:54 am

economic and political crisis can result in a lot of politicians becoming unemployed in a hurry. So they count as important matters.

Reply to  Leo Smith
April 13, 2016 7:11 am

You can learn a lot about orchestrated protest from the on-off switch used in war protest and the climate con.

April 13, 2016 3:38 am

I just looked up the energy source breakdown for Brazil.
According to this page – they already source 42% of their energy from renewables (as of 2012).
This compared with 13% for the E.U. for the same period.
Whilst investment in new renewables in the EU has been about 100 billion per year compared to less than 10 billion per year for Brazil. (I’m not sure of the precise figures, but along those lines).
Brazil has achieved this wonder by almost completely ignoring the Solar P.V. pushers on the eco-left.
They derived less than 0.01% of their energy from Solar P.V.
Also they have also adopted a successful auction system for driving down the cost of wind power installation.
Electricity in Brazil is cheaper than electricity in France, U.K. or Germany.
So, in short Brazil has achieved three times as much, at a fraction of the cost.
So – who are we to tell them what to do.
We should be asking them, what we should do.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  indefatigablefrog
April 13, 2016 4:29 am

The reason Brazil has been successful with sugarcane ethanol is that they have the right climate (warm and wet) for it. It actually makes economic sense for them to do it, and that is the only reason countries should have for using whatever energy mix they use. More power to ’em. Here in the US, though, ethanol, which has to be done with corn, which is less energy dense than sugar makes no sense. Fortunately, we do have plenty of oil available though.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
April 13, 2016 6:38 am

Absolutely Bruce.
Brazil is naturally blessed.
It’s a biomass and hydropower.
And that’s without mentioning the natural endowments of its female population.
But, my basic point is – that they don’t need to take lessons from (for example) subsidy obsessed Germans with their reliance on lignite and their absurdly costly and ineffective PV bonanza.
P.S. in all other circumstances I do not believe in burning food. Not in a world in which people are hungry.

Pamela Gray
April 13, 2016 7:02 am

Nah. It isn’t any of those reasons. The real reason is because it is way more important to party in Brazil. For example, the arduous annual task of popping balloons.

April 13, 2016 7:08 am

Eric’s comment at the end of his post match the assessment by Holman Jenkins at the WSJ today
“History of a Climate Con”

Lucius von Steinkaninchen
April 13, 2016 11:09 am

Brazilian here. Nobody *ever* talks about “climate change” here. There is some occasional push of liberal media on the theme here and there, but now that the leftist government financing them is crumbling even they are more worried with survival issues. Meanwhile a recent poll showed that the main problems of the country perceived by Brazilians (source:
– Corruption: 34%
– Healthcare: 16%
– Employment: 10%
– Education: 8%
– Violence/public security: 8%
– Economy: 5%
Surprise: environmental issues are nowhere to be seen.

MB Misanthrope
April 17, 2016 6:16 pm

Regarding the Paris climate deal, the signatories can ratify it until the next Ice Age, but since it’s strictly non-binding, no country will make any great effort to meet any emissions targets if they prove too onerous or affect their economies adversely. Brazil’s leaders and citizens are fully aware of this, so they are putting the country’s other problems first. The rest of the world’s nations feel the same way; therefore, they will do little more than pay the Paris treaty lip-service because there are no penalties for non-compliance.

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