São Paulo, Brazil — On his third trip to Europe since taking office in January, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has stepped up his tone and blamed richer countries for climate change. He said the world’s biggest economies should fund environmental protection.
“It is not the African people who pollute the world, it is not the Latin American people who pollute the world. In fact, those who polluted the planet in the last 200 years were those who made the Industrial Revolution. Therefore, they have to pay the historic debt they owe the planet,” said Lula last Thursday, in Paris.
The president spoke at the closing of Power Our Planet, an event that seeks to expand efforts to help poor and emerging countries to deal with climate change. He was invited to talk at the event by Chris Martin, lead singer of the British band Coldplay.
Lula also reaffirmed his commitment to end deforestation in the Amazon by 2030: “When I took office, I assumed the responsibility that, by 2030, we will have zero deforestation in the Amazon. The Amazon is a sovereign territory of Brazil, but at the same time, it belongs to all of humanity. Therefore, we will make every effort to keep the forest standing.”
After participating in Power Our Planet, Lula met with the president of France, Emmanuel Macron. The conversation was focused on the trade agreement between Mercosur and the European Union and the terms to unlock the final negotiation between the blocs.
Once again, Lula raised his tone and criticized the new demands made by the European Union to sign the agreement, such as the application of fines in case of non-compliance with environmental obligations. For the president, the additives presented by the European bloc are a kind of “threat” to Mercosur members.
“The additional letter that was made by the European Union does not allow an agreement to be reached. We are going to make the answer, and we are going to send the answer, but we need to start discussing. It is not possible that we have a strategic partnership and there is an additional letter making a threat to a strategic partner,” he said.
Approved in 2019, after 20 years of negotiations, the agreement between Mercosur and the EU still needs to be ratified by the parliaments of all countries of the two blocs to enter into force. The negotiation involves 31 countries and, therefore, is extremely complex. However, Lula believes that it is possible to have a definition by the end of the year.
When in Rome
Before going to Paris to participate in the Summit for the New Global Financing Compact, promoted by Macron, the Brazilian president spent three days in Italy, where he met Pope Francis, President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Initially, a meeting with Meloni, a leader of the Italian extreme right, was not foreseen, and was later included in Lula’s agenda.
With Pope Francis, at the Vatican, Lula discussed solutions for the war in Ukraine and the fight against social and economic inequalities in the world. With the president, Lula also discussed the agreement between Mercosur and the European Union, as well as ways to expand and strengthen relations between Brazil and Italy.
With Meloni, Lula discussed the approximation between Brazil and Italy over the next year, when the two countries will assume, respectively, the rotating presidencies of the G20 and the G7.
“This week, we fulfilled two agendas that were important for Brazil. First, the visit to Italy, since for more than six years our countries had no relationship, even with more than 30 million descendants in Brazil. And in France, the meeting to discuss a new economic pact and the climate issue,” said Lula.