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Exploring the contradictions between Brazil’s role in the global climate change regime and its position in regional environmental governance.

Siegel, Karen M; Riethof, Marieke


Karen M Siegel

Marieke Riethof


Similar to other developing countries Brazil’s position
on climate change emphasises national sovereignty
and the principle of “common but differentiated
responsibilities”. However, in recent years Brasilia has
also announced voluntary reductions in carbon emissions,
making Brazil one of the leading emerging countries
in its approach to climate change, while enhancing its
international reputation and legitimacy. Compared to its
neighbours Brazil has older and more developed domestic
environmental institutions and movements. Yet, Brazil’s
global leadership on climate change does not translate
into a similar role in regional environmental governance.
In the 2000s Argentina and Uruguay became embroiled in
a bitter environmental conflict involving a shared natural
resource, the Uruguay River. Brazil not only refused to
mediate, but also kept it out of regional forums insisting
on the conflict’s bilateral nature. Furthermore, Mercosur’s
environmental agenda has progressively become eroded
while Brazilian-led Unasur lacks an institutional framework
dedicated to environmental concerns. This indicates
that environmental concerns are far more important
for Brazil’s global image than for its role as a regional
leader. It also highlights the limited scope of the climate
change negotiations which focus narrowly on reducing
carbon emissions, without taking wider concerns over
energy generation or environmental and social justice
into account. Brazil has promoted hydropower generation,
portrayed as “clean” energy. Yet, these projects have
sparked strong domestic and regional civil society
opposition due to their social and environmental costs
which make it difficult for Brazil to claim a regional
leadership role on environmental concerns.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Society for Latin American Studies Annual Conference
Start Date Apr 7, 2016
End Date Apr 8, 2016
Acceptance Date Sep 9, 1999
Publication Date 2016-04
Deposit Date Jun 28, 2016
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Environmental Governance; global climate change, Brazil;
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