The determinants of the national position of Brazil on climate change : empirical reflections

The determinants of the national position of Brazil on climate change : empirical reflections

International negotiations on the Framework Convention on Climate Change have been characterized by severe polarization between developed and developing countries. The G77, led by major countries such as Brazil, India, and China, illustrated a remarkable capacity to manifest its importance in the final text of the Convention. Recently, the G77 has succeeded in moving the protocol process forward whilefending off attempts at charging additional commitments todeveloping countries. There are, as such, good reasons to pay attention to the positions of strong G77 leaders. This paper takes a close look at Brazil and offers preliminary observations from recent analysis of the actors, interests, and dynamics behind the position of the Brazilian government on climate change. Several empirical propositions are advanced. For a start, it is argued that the Brazilian national position on climate change, despite evident strategic adjustment, has undergone little change from the pre-UNCED to thepost-UNCED years. Secondly, it is proposed that two domestic, federal institutions have dominated the formulation of the national position, namely the military and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that they have shared common yet differentiated preoccupations on national security and sovereignty. Thirdly, observations suggest that there has been little domestic battle on the national.position,especially in the post-UNCED years. The national position of Brazil currently reflects neither a societal nor an interministerial debate. It is a technocratic decision for which primarily strategic and diplomatic considerations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have importance. A fourth proposition is that Brazils national position on climate change must be understood and analysed withdue respect to certain general objectives of the country’s foreign policy. Most importantly, one must understand that Brazil is increasingly caught between its ambiguous considerations for its partners in the North and the South. In the final section, the paper points to various forces of ‘globalization’ which, it is suggested, have had importance for a change in decision-making power from the military to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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