The 23rd United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 23) began on Monday (06) in Bonn, Germany, with low expectations. The main objective of the meeting is to outline the guidelines to the regulation and implementation of the Paris Agreement. Two years have passed since the treaty and almost nothing has been done to honor the commitments made there. Or worse, national policies – like Brazil’s for the energy sector – have done the exact reverse: stimulated industries that instead of decreasing will exponentially increase greenhouse gas emissions.
While the Brazilian Foreign Affairs Ministry sends its ambassadors to parade in the corridors and pose for COP 23 photos, the House of Representatives, by appointment of the Presidency of Michel Temer, prepares to vote a Provisional Measure that reduces the taxes to be paid by companies involved in the exploration, development and production of oil and gas. According to studies from the Chamber of Deputies, considering only the pre-salt fields sold recently, the loss due to tax waiver would be in the order of 40 billion Reals per year, or 1 trillion Reals in 25 years. Only in 2018, the forecast of the breakdown in the public accounts due to the fiscal incentives – or the license to pollute the planet – is of 16.4 billion Reals.
In practice, the measure, which is on the agenda of the Chamber of Deputies to be voted anytime, exempts the oil multinationals from various taxes on the exploitation of Brazilian natural resources. Companies can reduce the amount to be paid in their income tax and on the Social Contribution on Net Income. It significantly changes the taxation of the chain of goods production for the oil and gas industry and, if approved, it will start being applied on 2018.
“While important federal ministries are receiving severe budget cuts, such as the Ministry of Environment, which will start 2018 with 50% less resources, the government wants to subsidize and foster the world’s most polluting industry. Last year, Brazil’s emissions have already increased 9%, and this curve tends to grow even more with the current national energy policies. This irresponsibility needs to be denounced and the government must be unmasked internationally,” said Nicole Figueiredo de Oliveira, director of 350.org Brazil and Latin America.
The prioritization of investments in fossil fuels, with a target of 70% of the resources for coal, oil and gas in the next decade (according to the Brazilian Decennial Energy Expansion Plan for 2026), and the resumption of the agenda for large auctions of oil and gas exploration, could worsen the position of the country – which now already occupies the seventh place – in the ranking of the world’s biggest polluters.
Published on August 17th, the Provisional Measure was issued to stimulate the participation of companies in the last two auctions of blocks of the pre-salt and post-salt layers, conducted on October 27th and September 27th by the Brazilian National Petroleum and Gas Agency. It is part of the government’s plan to strengthen the industry nationally and rise up the economy.
In the middle of the way, the COP
As negotiators in Bonn argue behind closed doors, time – and the climate – flies urgently. Populations in every corner of the globe experience the worst effects of climate inaction: severe droughts, floods, hurricanes and other extreme events that kill and leave thousands homeless, refugees, devastated. Just look at Vietnam, which is currently facing the damages of Typhoon Damrey, who has already left at least 27 dead people.
In fact this is not a COP with great expectations of concrete actions. But the success of the Paris Accord depends on it. What will be tested is the maintenance of the spirit of unity that allowed the treaty in 2015. And, of course, the ability of world leaders to do their homework and fulfill their commitments.
At this point, there is no other message the Brazilian civil society want to send to the government: No more subsidies for the oil and gas industry. Not a trillion, #Not1Cent!