“So far, South American countries have not acted as a single bloc or consistently as a set of blocs in these [climate change] international negotiations, despite having important common issues, for example, the management of the Amazon basin. Nevertheless, a look at the positions of Bolivia and Brazil, by far the most important regional player, in the major summits sponsored by the United Nations and other parallel processes, reveals emerging possibilities for joint action by South American countries in future processes.
“Although it surprised some governments, Bolivia's position at Cancun was consistent with agreements reached at the Summit of the World People's Conference on Climate Change in April 2010 in Cochabamba, Bolivia, which included civil society and nongovernmental representatives from around the developing world. President Evo Morales embraced the conclusions of this alternative process (which held its next summit in Bangkok in April 2011) and promised to take them to Cancun.
“A negotiating bloc consisting of the entire South American region does not seem feasible in the short term because Brazil, the most powerful country in South America, in fact may become an obstacle to regional consensus building.
Implications from FORO:
“Brazil has demonstrated great skills as a mediator and facilitator in recent summits, but it is unclear whether the interests of Brazil, as an emerging power that is beginning to coordinate closely with large CO2 producers such as China and India, are compatible with those of the rest of South America or the developing world. Brazil has been much more active in its role as a BASIC member and as a counterpart to the industrialized countries, in contrast with a lack of leadership on South American or Amazonian initiatives.”
Implications from IFTF:
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff calls herself a Pragmatic Capitalist and is most certainly focused first and foremost on continued economic development, not conservation and climate change. Brazil’s portion of the Amazonian rain forest however is the largest in the region and an inability or unwillingness to maintain its survival may lead to increased civil society disruptions and force the political community in Brazil back to a focus on climate change.
Bolivia’s more extreme stance on climate change appears to be reflective of civil society wishes. President Morales’ respect for this community may be what brings Bolivia into the forefront of climate change negotiations. One must ask however, should Bolivia reach an economic level similar to Brazil, would the roles stay the same?
FORO June 2011 pgs. 4 and 5