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Brazil's Lula to put climate at center of first post-election speech abroad

Reuters · 11/16/2022 05:07
Brazil's Lula to put climate at center of first post-election speech abroad

By Jake Spring

- Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva got a warm welcome at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt on Wednesday, where he was to make his first speech abroad since being elected as the Amazon 's president.

Lula has vowed to recommit the rainforest in global talks on the climate crisis.

Hundreds of people crowded into an exhibition hall where Lula was meeting Brazilian governors of Amazon states.

The crowd chanted "Lula! Lula!" before the event began.

Wearing a suit and tie, Lula arrived with a light security detail and walked to the edge of the crowd, reaching out to shake outstretched hands.

"It's very positive that he's coming here as president-elect because the current president came to COPs," said Carlos Nobre, a climate scientist at the University of São Paulo.

He said Lula would turn around Brazil's environmental policies "180 degrees" from those of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.

Later on Wednesday, Lula is scheduled to speak to the U.N. summit at large, delivering the message "Brazil is Back" as a leader on climate change.

Sources told Reuters last week that Lula plans at COP27 to offer to host a future U.N. climate summit and to announce the creation of a climate authority to oversee government work to address global warming.

Lula won office last month over Bolsonaro, who appointed climate skeptics as ministers and saw deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest spike to a 15-year high.

Deforestation is the single largest source of climate-warming emissions in Brazil as the dense jungle vegetation absorbs vast amounts of carbon that is released when destroyed.

Lula reduced deforestation to record lows in his first presidency from 2003 to 2010. For his administration, he has promised a sweeping plan to restore environmental law enforcement that eroded under Bolsonaro and create green jobs.

The president-elect received invitations for more than 10 bilateral meetings with representatives of other countries at COP27.

On Tuesday, Lula said on Twitter he met U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry and China's chief climate Xie Zhenhua. Lula was expected to meet EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Lula will meet with civil society and indigenous groups, as well as United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. He departs on Friday for Portugal to meet government authorities there.

(Editing by Katy Daigle and Janet Lawrence)