(Updates with Lula addressing the crowd at the event and offering to hold COP30 in Brazil)
By Jake Spring
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov 16 (Reuters) – Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was warmly welcomed to Egypt’s COP27 summit on Wednesday, where he pledged to recommit the rainforest nation to tackling the climate crisis and offered to future UN climate talks.
“I’m here to say to all of you that Brazil is back in the world,” he said at an event alongside governors of Brazil’s Amazon states.
Lula, a leftist who won his third term last month, said he would try to make Brazil the host of COP30 in 2025 and would aim to place the venue in the Amazon rainforest, rather than the more densely populated coastal region.
The country was set to host the annual UN summit in 2019 until Lula’s predecessor – right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro – refused to go through with it.
“It’s important that it’s in the Amazon. It’s important for the people who defend the Amazon, the people who defend the climate, to learn well what the region is,” said Lula, who takes office in January. .
Brazil’s 1992 World Summit in Rio de Janeiro has been the basis for all major international environmental agreements since then, with the signing of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which aims to prevent extreme climate change, and formed the basis for the COP meetings.
Lula’s choice to make the COP27 summit the centerpiece of his first international visit since he was elected president last month has breathed new life into this year’s talks in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Hundreds of people poured into the exhibit hall chanting “Lula! Lula!” before the event started.
Arriving with a small security detail, Lula walked to the edge of the crowd and reached out to shake her hand. It was led by Governor Helder Barbalho of Para, the Brazilian state with the most deforestation.
“It’s very positive that he’s coming here as president-elect, because the current president has never come to COPs,” said Carlos Nobre, a climate scientist at the University of São Paulo.
He said Lula would flip Brazil’s environmental policy “180 degrees” from Bolsonaro’s.
Lula won the office last month from Bolsonaro, who appointed climate skeptics as ministers and saw deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest rise to a 15-year high.
During his first presidency from 2003 to 2010, Lula pushed deforestation to a near all-time low. For his new administration, he has promised a sweeping plan to restore environmental law enforcement eroded under Bolsonaro and create green jobs.
On Tuesday, Lula met with US climate envoy John Kerry and China’s chief climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua. On Wednesday he was supposed to meet Frans Timmermans, head of EU climate policy.
On Thursday, Lula will meet with civil society and indigenous groups, as well as United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He leaves for Portugal on Friday to meet the government there.
(Reporting by Jake Spring; Additional reporting by William James and Dominic Evans; Editing by Katy Daigle and Janet Lawrence)