Brazil withdrew its offer to host the COP25 United Nations climate conference next year citing budget constraints and presidential transition.
In a statement on Wednesday, Brazil’s foreign ministry said: “Considering the current financial and budgetary restrictions and the process of transition for the recently elected administration … the Brazilian government feels obliged to rescind its offer to host COP25.”
The move came just days before the start of COP24, this year’s annual climate conference, being held in Poland’s Katowice city. COP25 was due to take place from November 11 to 22, 2019.
Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who will assume office on January 1, had threatened to withdraw Brazil from the Paris climate accord.
He has also vowed to remove restrictions on the agri-business sector accused of causing untold devastation to the environment, in particular, the Amazon rainforest.
Brazil has 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest within its borders, a biome scientists consider one of nature’s best defences against global warming as it acts as a giant carbon sink.
Brazil has made significant strides in the past 15 years to curtail destruction of the jungle, but the government reported last week that annual deforestation levels have hit their highest level in a decade.
Critics said the decision to not host the UN climate conference was related to the election of right-wing Bolsonaro.
“The reversal to host the meeting is likely because of the opposition of the incoming government, which has already declared war on sustainable development on multiple occasions,” environmental group Observatorio da Clima said on its website.
“It’s not the first and will not be the last awful news from Jair Bolsonaro on this theme.”
Earlier this month, Bolsonaro appointed career diplomat Ernesto Araujo as his new foreign minister, a man who this week hit out at “climate scare-mongering” in an article in the Gazeta do Povo newspaper.
Bolsonaro has antagonised environmentalists by threatening to pull Brazil out of the Paris climate accord, although he also said late in October that he was not set on such a move if elected.