The first trip of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 78, after his third electoral victory, was the COP27 in Egypt, one year ago today. His intention at the time was to inform the world that Brazil would be a leader in the fight against climate change. However, a recent announcement has caused confusion: Brasilia joined the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as an observer, casting doubt on its commitment to reducing emissions.
During his presidency, Lula showed significant progress in environmental matters, with a 22% reduction in deforestation and the demarcation of indigenous lands. However, joining OPEC has created a debate about the combination of two incompatible visions of his government: the commitment to sustainability led by Minister Marina Silva and the strong position in favor of the industry of oil.
The surprise of Brazil entering OPEC as an observer caused it to be described as “an own goal” according to diplomatic sources. Suely Araujo, from the Climate Observatory, points out that although unexpected, the movement is not surprising, since Lula’s government has shown interest in expanding the exploitation of oil and gas.
Silence the controversy
Lula, trying to calm the controversy, argued that the participation of OPEC + is important to persuade oil-producing countries to prepare for the end of fossil fuels. However, its comparison with the G7 and its claim not to participate in important decisions did not escape criticism.
The decision comes ahead of a major Petrobras auction, which includes more than 600 oil blocks in sensitive areas. Minister Marina Silva emphasized the urgency of reducing dependence on fossil fuels, but Lula avoided drastic measures, as evidenced by his response to the Colombian president’s proposal to abandon oil.
The battle between a green power or a petrostate is intensifying, especially with the problem Petrobras faces in expanding oil exploration in ecologically sensitive areas. Amid COP28 in Dubai, Brazil’s choice between sustainability and the oil industry has become more important than ever. Veteran Suely Araujo warned: “Brazil must choose between becoming an environmental power or becoming a petro-state.” The fight over the future of fossil fuels turned fierce at the climate summit, where the presence of oil lobbyists outnumbered indigenous representatives.