Richard Drew / AP

Brazil pledges to slash emissions by 43 percent

President Dilma Rousseff presented ambitious pledge to cut emissions during a speech at the UN

Brazil pledged on Sunday to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent by 2030 as its contribution to a United Nations climate agreement, but said it will include reductions from past efforts against deforestation to help it reach the target.

President Dilma Rousseff presented the country's pledges during a speech at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, noting the targets are more ambitious than those of most developed countries and that Brazil will not need external support to achieve them.

Brazil already curbed emissions by 41 percent between 2005 and 2012, largely through fighting deforestation. Rousseff reaffirmed the country's commitment to ending that illegal practice in the Amazon, as stated during a joint announcement with U.S. President Barack Obama in June, but fell short of declaring a freeze on deforestation in general as many environmental groups had sought.

Emissions from deforestation worldwide account for 15 percent of global heat-trapping gases, or the equivalent of what is emitted by the entire transport sector. Brazil holds the largest rain forests in the world.

But estimates from leading researchers on land use change in Brazil indicate legal deforestation could still be carried out in an area of around 250 million acres, equivalent to the size of Colombia. 

Brazil has said it intends to offset emissions coming from regulated deforestation but has not provided further details. 

"Brazil is one of a few developing countries to commit to an absolute emissions reduction target," Rousseff said at the U.N.

"We have one of the world's largest populations and GDP, and our targets are as ambitious or more ambitious than those of developed countries," she said.

Al Jazeera and Reuters

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