Brazil’s new climate diplomacy under a new government: interview in Taggespiegel (Germany)

How could Brazil rebuild its climate diplomacy under a new Lula government? CIPÓ’s Executive Director, Adriana Abdenur, was interviewed by the German newspaper Taggespiegel. Read the translated interview (originally in German):

Post-Bolsonaro climate diplomacy – Brazil

Linking climate and politics – this is what the think tank Plataforma CIPÓ wants to do in Brazil. It is not an easy task when the current president denies the climate crisis. Adriana Abdenur, co-founder of CIPÓ, does not give up — especially right before the elections.

Deforestation, climate change deniers and an openly sexist president — Brazil is currently a difficult place for a woman to deal with the climate crisis from a scientific point of view. Adriana Abdenur, founder and executive director of the think tank Plataforma CIPÓ, persists. “We are currently being treated as a public enemy” she says. “Not as an organization trying to make constructive suggestions.”

Under the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, deforestation in Brazil has reached record levels in recent years. But that’s not all: “Environmental and climate protection mechanisms have been severely weakened,” says Abdenur. For example, funds from the state environmental protection organization Ibama and the indigenous protection agency Funai were severely cut, and former environment minister Ricardo Salles was an open friend of the agricultural lobby.

An intersectional approach to deforestation

In this environment, Abdenur tries to develop policy recommendations for climate policy through Plataforma CIPÓ. A few years ago, in collaboration with Maiara Folly, Abdenur – now 47 years old – felt that climate change and international politics were still thought of as separate spheres in Brazil. “Civil society organizations and political institutions have rarely worked together on this issue,” she says.

That’s why they swiftly founded their own think tank. To this day, CIPÓ remains women-led, which is remarkable in itself. “Political spaces, especially in the area of ​​international relations, are still very white and male-dominated in Brazil”, says the sociologist. “So it is essential that we also occupy these spaces.”

The fact that the think tank is led by women is more than a symbolic gesture. A feminist perspective is also reflected in the organization’s content – ​​Plataforma CIPÓ tries to think about climate and politics from an intersectional perspective. In addition to gender, the team works to include racism and geographic differences in the analyses. “We are much more sensitive to inequalities and mechanisms of exclusion,” says Abdenur, describing the special nature of this work.

Just ahead of next Sunday’s presidential elections, the mood in the country is particularly tense — and Abdenur and her colleagues have been particularly busy. They are currently working from two different starting points. The first is a report by the think tank showing which candidates have supported bills that damage the environmental and contribute to climate change. “We call the perpetrators by their names,” says Abdenur. In doing so, CIPÓ wants to provide voters with an important input for decision making.

Post-Bolsonaro climate policy

In addition, the think tank makes recommendations on what international environmental and climate policy could look like after Bolsonaro’s possible defeat and under a renewed government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in order to reverse the damage of recent years as quickly as possible. “The immediate priority must be to reverse the current uptick in deforestation,” says Abdenur.

For that to happen, funds would have to be made available again for monitoring and recording deforestation, and weakened structures would have to be strengthened once again. “We have to send a strong signal to our international partners”, says the sociologist. Brazil has lost a lot of credibility in recent years. Now it will have to be rebuilt by showing that constructive climate cooperation is possible again. She thinks a new Lula government could quickly succeed in reviving old collaborations.

Lula leads in all polls for the presidential election, having a clear advantage in all of them. How Brazilians will decide on Sunday’s elections remains open. Adriana Abdenur is optimistic, but the possibility of Bolsonaro’s second term still worries her. “We are not afraid of anything, but the damage would be enormous — not only for the climate, but also for our democracy”, says the expert.

Lisa Kuner

Who can save the climate? Politics or individuals?

Politics, because it is a collective construction.

Which flight would you never miss?

A flight home to see my children.

Who in the world of energy and climate impresses you?

Federal Deputy Joênia Wapichana. She is the first indigenous woman to be elected federal deputy and is a tireless activist for the defense of the Amazon and the peoples of the region.

Which idea gives a new momentum to the energy transition?

To be honest: in developing countries, the transition has to generate employment and income.

Plataforma CIPÓ
Plataforma CIPÓ
Plataforma CIPÓ is an independent, women-led policy institute focusing on climate, governance, and peacebuilding in Latin America and the Caribbean and, more generally, the Global South.



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