Written by By Alejandro Gomez Torres, CNN
The sale of timber, mining and oil from the Amazon rainforest have been providing crucial climate aid for more than a decade. Now, the UN’s climate change chief is pushing to make those profits part of a bigger $100 billion green financing fund.
Raul Merino, the Executive Secretary of the UN’s Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, shared his hopes Tuesday during a visit to Brazil to learn more about the country’s efforts to tackle climate change and the conflict over rainforest resources.
The Natura Foundation, which the UN considers a leading voice in the fight against climate change, estimates that $40 billion from two public and private sources is currently funding projects in the Amazon that would otherwise be lost. That money is mainly covered by international private sector partnerships, including the Global Fund.
If the price of oil and raw materials from mining, oil and timber companies were on a par with how it would cost to increase the levels of climate action, $60 billion a year could be made available for new action, according to Natura. But without a means of protecting sales from climate change in carbon markets, $100 billion a year is not enough.
“Our most important target is to put climate finance to action,” Merino said at a meeting in Brasilia attended by representatives from various NGOs. “We have commitments from over 150 countries. We will not close our doors if we don’t have instruments to move forward.”
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Brazil’s Amazon Environment Institute and the Centre for Science in the Public Interest both supported Merino’s arrival, showing up to make calls for one-off transfers of climate aid to the region.
“Some of the $60 billion will come in at some point. The good news is we can save some of this money,” said República do Vegetaria’s Vera Motta.
More specifically, the work and gains of the Amazon Fund, which has overseen these transfers for the past 13 years, are worth $50 million.
Cristiana Daddona, who chairs the Natura Foundation and presented the UN with a book on climate finance, told CNN that it has helped make a “fair” market for climate action. But she added that $100 billion should be made available to allow medium-term projections to be more secure.
While the funds have put Brazilian rainforest protection activities on the international radar, conflicts over the region’s resources have continued unabated.
Natura told CNN that it could help make real progress in terms of peace through conflict resolution by implementing a combination of mediation, dialogue and unity.
That could include supporting indigenous peoples whose rights to a protected area they traditionally occupy are put at risk by deforestation. It could also include training the so-called “indigenous police” to make arrests.
A joint UN and Brazilian task force involving UN peacekeeping officers, NGOs and government representatives is now building what is being called a cultural code for the Amazon, to try to make clear their rights to the environment and the right to defend them.
Brazil has also established strategic alliances with neighboring countries. Merino hopes that engagement can help organize operations such as the recent reforestation operation aimed at accelerating efforts to stem deforestation in Bolivia and Paraguay.
Brazil will aim to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the UN World Tourism Organization next year and has pledged to reduce deforestation by a third from 1990 levels.
Tackling emissions from the world’s aviation sector, which is responsible for 15% of global emissions, has proved to be a challenge.
Before what Natura described as the “critical moment” in the Paris climate change agreement in 2016, no country had agreed to a measure which would encourage aviation to consider reducing its emissions as it develops new technologies.
Since then, several countries, including Australia, India and France, have agreed to such measures. But the US, the world’s largest aviation market, has missed out.
Arno Furbacher, who runs for Greenpeace, said the delay was a failure of leadership. He cited Indian airline SpiceJet, which launched a non-compliant “green” carrier in 2016, as a prime example of companies working toward an unsustainable goal.
“Leaving aviation out has been one of the biggest political mistakes,” he said.