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Activists react as Lula, Macron commit to make climate action a ‘strategic priority’

Meeting in the Brazilian city of Belém on March 26, 2024, Presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Emmanuel Macron of France have committed to work, in a bilateral and multilateral framework, to make climate action a strategic priority.

Lula and Macron
Presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil (right) and Emmanuel Macron of France

The Presidents underlined the importance of effective, renewed and inclusive multilateralism, under the auspices of the United Nations, including to address the many ongoing social and environmental crises.

After a tête-à-tête, the first of several during a three-day state visit, Macron and Lula launched a joint appeal to make the fight against climate change a “strategic priority.” In doing so, the French president lent his support to his counterpart in the run-up to COP30, which Brazil plans to host in Belem in 2025.

The Brazilian president, who hosted his French counterpart on the state visit, has succeeded in curbing deforestation in the Amazon. But his policy in favour of new oil drilling has been criticised.

The Presidents share the point of view whereby the effective implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement require us to act decisively in this decade to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The Presidents committed to speed up efforts during this critical decade on the basis of the best available scientific data and equity, taking into account common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities, as well as the different national circumstances and the context of sustainable development and the fight against poverty.

The Presidents welcomed the UAE Consensus and the conclusion of the first Global Stocktake (GST) of the Paris Agreement at the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP28), which reiterated the urgent need to address the crisis in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

They expressed their concern as to the shortcomings of implementation identified by the GST when it came to mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation and called on the Parties to the Paris Agreement to step up collective ambition for action and support, particularly by ratchetting up the ambition of their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) starting in 2024.

The Presidents welcomed the agreement reached at COP28 on transitioning away from fossil fuels. Recalling that almost half of their energy mixes are decarbonised, they committed to further accelerate their efforts for their respective energy transitions to emissions neutrality (net zero emissions) by 2050 and to support multilateral, plurilateral and bilateral initiatives responding to the UAE Consensus effectively and as soon as possible.

President Macron renewed his support for Brazil’s Presidency of COP30 in 2025, marking the 33rd anniversary of the UNFCCC and the 10th of the adoption of the Paris Agreement, during which the Parties will present their new NDCs. In this respect, the Presidents called on all countries to immediately begin reviewing their NDCs for publication nine to 12 months before COP30, which will be held in Belém in November 2025.

The Presidents also recalled that COP28 encouraged the Parties to submit NDCs aligned with the objective of limiting warming to 1.5°C, including ambitious economy-wide emissions reduction goals for the whole economy that address all greenhouse gases, sectors and categories.

The Presidents renewed their support for the Presidencies troika of COP28, COP29 and COP30 in relation to their role shaping the “Roadmap to Mission 1.5°C” in order to significantly improve international cooperation and create an international environment that is conducive to enhancing climate action during this critical decade and limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

France and Brazil are committed to the fight against deforestation and recognise the importance of protecting Amazonia and other biomes. In this framework, the Presidents expressed their commitment to fostering the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of the planet’s tropical forests and agreed to work on an ambitious programme, including through a Franco-Brazilian roadmap on bioeconomy and the protection of tropical forests, particularly with a view to developing innovative financial instruments, market mechanisms and payments for environmental services that support the mobilisation of resources on the right scale to achieve the challenge of stopping deforestation by 2030.

The Presidents reaffirmed their commitment to effectively implementing the three dimensions – economic, social and environmental – of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in a balanced and integrated fashion, including the imperative of eradicating poverty and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2030 Agenda remains the compass that all countries must follow to bring about a future where nobody is left behind.

The Presidents underlined the key importance of science and education and instruments for access to, development of and transfer of technology in the fight against climate change. They therefore agreed to promote closer ties between scientists, educators and students in both countries on these subjects, including through research projects, exchanges and joint scholarships. They also agreed to open a dialogue on training and employment aligned with the imperatives of sustainable development.

The Presidents reaffirmed the importance of closer dialogue between scientists and policymakers, including in the light of the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They share the same will to support actions on environmental education and promoting better knowledge of the IPCC, particularly among children and young people, indigenous peoples and traditional peoples and communities.

The Presidents recognised the importance of promoting inclusive climate science and sustainable development, with greater involvement of scientists from developing countries, that takes into account gender considerations and the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and traditional communities.

The Presidents recalled that the COP28 decision on the GST recognised the growing gap between the needs of developing country Parties and the support provided and mobilized to help them in their efforts to implement their NDCs.

The Presidents reaffirmed their commitment ahead of COP29 in 2024, which should adopt a new New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) building on the foundation of the goal of $100 billion per year, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries, before 2025. In this respect, they committed to working towards achieving an ambitious result in negotiations on the NCQG.

Brazil and Francesaid they are determined to work bilaterally and with their partners to bring about a new governance framework for the international financial architecture to more effectively finance the fight against poverty and the protection of the planet, which are two essential conditions for a just ecological transition. This change, which is central to the Paris Pact for People and the Planet, must raise public and private financial resources on an unprecedented scale and at an unprecedented pace and reform international financial institutions.

The Presidents underlined the urgent need for transformation and modernisation of the international financial architecture, including a reform of the multilateral development banks and international financial institutions to adapt them to the goal of supporting sustainable development, ecological transformation and just and equitable transitions.

They recalled the need to work on the challenges of mobilizing public and private finance and very significantly reducing the cost of capital in developing countries, given their limited fiscal space, and address the issues of risk aversion when it comes to investing in developing countries and improving access to multilateral funds.

The Presidents recognised the key importance of ecological planning to effectively address the climate and environmental crises. They acknowledged their respective ecological transformation policies and, in this context, committed to promote the exchange of best practices concerning effective planning instruments to combat climate change and foster adaptation and sustainable development.

In order to bring to fruition, the aspiration to make climate action a key plank of the Strategic Partnership, the Presidents committed to establish cooperation based on a calendar of technical and high-level dialogues and visits ahead of and beyond COP30 in Belém.

Starting in 2024, France and Brazil disclosed that they would build on this dialogue to mobilise their partners around the goal of stepping up the ambition of each country’s commitments by COP30.

In a reaction, René Poccard, an expert with the Centre for International Cooperation in Agronomic Research for Development in Amazonia, said: “The two leaders have a shared interest in being at the forefront of the fight against deforestation and fighting for the rights of Indigenous peoples, in order to protect the Amazon but also to send a signal to their respective electorates.”

Brazilian climate activist and 350.org Director for Latin America, Ilan Zugman, said: “Macron and Lula are right to bring the issue of climate financing to the bilateral agenda of both countries, but we still need to see concrete support from France and other European countries to the full phase out of fossil fuels and consistent taxation on fossil fuel companies, as well as on financing a fair energy transition and adaptation measures in the Global South.

“Taxing the super-rich, which Brazil courageously took to the G20 agenda as group leader in 2024, is also a path to this financing, but the engagement of European governments in this proposal has to be much clearer.”

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