Latin America climate week is part of a series of regional summits to encourage dialogue between governments and civil society, in support of national climate pledges. The events were initially set to take place from 19 to 23 August in Salvador
The rebuke comes months after Brazil backed out from presiding over the Cop25 UN climate summit, prompting a frenzied search for alternative venues. Chile stepped in with less than a year to prepare.
Brazil’s environment minister, Ricardo Salles, told national daily O Globo: “We do not accept hosting the event because it is an action in the run-up to Cop25. It does not make sense to host an event from the climate conference, if we are not going to hold the conference.”
The newspaper published a message from UN Climate Change saying it was seeking other options in the region, but would make no official comment until it received notification in writing. A spokesperson for the UN body declined to comment to Climate Home News.
According to Salvador City Hall, the event had been confirmed last year under Michel Temer’s interim government. André Fraga, the official charged with UN liaison, was informed of the cancellation on Friday night, in a phone call from the federal environment ministry.
Fraga told O Globo: “I have been informed that Minister Ricardo Salles was not comfortable with holding the event in Brazil.
"He claimed what all of this government claim: that the event only serves as a platform for NGOs, that it is useless and that the environment ministry’s focus is the urban agenda, which has nothing to do with climate change.”
The environment minister denied having a problem with campaign groups, saying: “It has nothing to do with the participation or not of NGOs, it has to do with our main agenda which, as I said, is an urban environmental agenda."
Fraga continued: "We do not support a meeting organized before our administration, with a different agenda from the one we prefer, which is the issue of the urban environmental agenda and sanitation, dumps.”
Environmentalists were quick to condemn the move. Carlos Rittl of Climate Observatory tweeted that the government was a “climate disaster”.
Natalie Sauer reports for Climate Home News. She has contributed to a variety of international outlets, including Politico Europe, AFP and The Ecologist. This article was first published by Climate Home.