France says it will not approve Brazil at the OECD without concrete climate action

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France says it will not approve Brazil at the OECD without concrete climate action

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a note saying that Brazil’s entry into the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) will depend on serious, concrete and measurable progress in the fight against deforestation and climate change.

The communiqué extends to the other five candidate countries (Argentina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Peru and Romania), but it serves as an indirect warning to Brazil, whose environmental policy has been repeatedly criticized by the government of Emmanuel Macron.

France is one of the 38 countries that make up the group and that need to reach a consensus to confirm membership of the entity.

The note was released last Wednesday (26), a day after the OECD council gave the green light for the start of Brazil’s membership negotiations.

According to the French ministry, the opening of discussions is the first step of the accession process, and the result will depend on the reforms undertaken by the States to converge with the values, norms and standards of the entity.

“France will be extremely attentive throughout this process to obtain from all candidates serious, concrete and measurable progress in practice in several priority areas, particularly in the fight against deforestation and climate change, in the protection of biodiversity, in measures against corruption or opening up economies”, says the text.

Sought for comment, the Ministry of Economy and Itamaraty did not respond until the publication of this report.

The note from the French government adds another episode to the open dispute between the Bolsonaro and Macron governments, which has dragged on since 2019.

France is one of the main responsible for blocking the trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur. According to the French president, the opposition is mainly due to the protection of the climate and biodiversity.

“France is against the agreement with Mercosur as it is being negotiated today, and we will continue to be, very clearly. Not because we don’t feel comfortable with our Mercosur friends, but because, by definition, this agreement, as it was conceived and designed, cannot be compatible with our climate and biodiversity agenda”, he said during the World Congress of Nature, in September.

Macron’s environmentalist stance, however, can also be explained by his electoral ambitions. In April this year, France will have new presidential elections and the current president has a lot to gain if he manages to gain a foothold with the green electorate – an increasingly strong public in Western Europe.

In addition, by opposing the Mercosur agreement, Macron also pleases the French agricultural sector, which, although relatively small in the economy, is politically active and has been strongly opposed to advancing the agreement.

The demand for environmental guarantees to join the club of rich countries does not come only from France. On Tuesday (25), the OECD itself included obligations to reduce deforestation and climate change mitigation measures in the documents that formalize the start of negotiations.

A day later, President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) highlighted the environmental commitments made by Brazil in the Paris Agreement and at COP26, the UN climate conference.

In a letter sent to Mathias Cormann, secretary general of the OECD, the president tried to distance himself from the image of a leader uncommitted to the climate agenda. “In the environmental area specifically, we have consistently demonstrated our commitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement,” he wrote.

See the note published by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in full:

“The OECD Council decided today to open accession discussions with Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Peru and Romania. The opening of discussions is the first step in a rigorous accession process, the outcome of which will depend on the reforms undertaken by the candidate countries to converge to OECD values, norms and standards.

At the request of France and its partners, the OECD Secretary General sent a letter to candidate countries seeking their commitment to respect the values ​​and priorities set out in the OECD 60th Anniversary Vision Statement and policy conclusions of the Council meeting OECD Ministers, adopted last year.

France will be extremely attentive throughout this process to obtain from all candidates serious, concrete and measurable progress in practice in several priority areas, particularly in the fight against deforestation and climate change, in the protection of biodiversity, in measures against corruption or in opening up economies.

At the end of this review and convergence process, the OECD Council will have to decide, unanimously by the member countries, on the accession of each candidate country.”

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