Brazil Tries out Role of Environmental Referee to World

Article excerpt

With an international convention on climate change just around the corner, Brazil is looking to polish its environmental image by proposing a compromise position to save the talks.

Next month, negotiators are set to meet in Kyoto, Japan, with the goal of setting limits on so-called "greenhouse gases" - primarily carbon dioxide emissions. According to many scientists, the gases threaten to raise global temperatures with dire consequences for human life.

But with only a few weeks left before negotiations, prospects for an accord look remote. The United States and Japan argue that tougher emission restrictions would depress employment and economic growth, while the European Union is pushing for steeper emissions cuts. Enter Brazil. "The Americans are one extreme, the Europeans are the other extreme, and seeing fully the importance of some success in these negotiations, we are trying to come up with something else," says Antonio Dayrell de Lima, director general of the section of the Foreign Ministry involved in the climate talks. The Brazilian idea is to divide the discomfort of progressive cuts among countries - primarily developed countries, which have historically been the biggest polluters and beneficiaries of high energy use. Each country would then have a "budget" of allowed emissions. An "overspending" country could "buy" additional greenhouse gas emission credits from an under-budget country by paying into a clean development fund that would help developing countries "grow clean. …