President Barack Obama and visiting Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff sought Tuesday to cast their nations as natural partners collaborating closely on critical issues like climate and regional diplomacy, glossing over recent tensions over spying that have strained relations between the first and seventh world economies.
At a joint White House news conference, Obama said the relationship the U.S. has with Brazil is a cornerstone of America's relations with Latin America. Rousseff said the relationship was on an upward trajectory and described her talks with Obama this week as fruitful.
I believe that this visit marks one more step in a new more ambitious chapter in the relations between our countries, Obama said. We are focused on the future.
Not so long ago, Rousseff canceled a visit to the U.S. to protest disclosures in 2013 that the U.S. had spied on her communications. Vice President Joe Biden and other top officials have spent the last two years attempting to repair the damage to the relationship inflicted by those revelations.
Obama, in his opening remarks, merely hinted at the tensions caused by the spying scandal. He said Rousseff's visit marks one more step and a new more ambitious chapter in relations between two of the world's largest economies.
In tandem with Rousseff's visit, Brazil pledged Tuesday to curb illegal deforestation and expand renewable energy use, as the United States and Brazil worked to build momentum toward a budding global climate treaty. Brazil is vowing by 2030 to restore and reforest 12 million hectares - an area roughly the size of Pennsylvania.
Brazil also plans to expand renewable sources other than hydropower to between 28% and 33% of its total energy mix by 2030. And in the electricity sector, the U.S. and Brazil jointly announced intentions to increase their share of renewable, non-hydropower sources to 20% by 2030. That will require tripling the amount of renewable energy on the U.S. electricity grid, while doubling it in Brazil, officials said.
Since 2005, our two nations have reduced carbon emissions more than any other countries in the world,” Obama said. “In Brazil this includes very impressive efforts over the last decade to combat deforestation, including in the Amazon, what is sometimes called the lungs of the planet.”
Brian Deese, a senior advisor to Obama says Brazil has cut its emissions by about 41% compared to 2005. It's reduced its emissions from deforestation by 85% from 2005 to 2012.
Deese said the United States has cut emissions by about 10% since 2005, and is on track to meet its 2020 emissions reductions target of 28%. Both countries come to this joint meeting of our leaders having demonstrated that we can make real progress in spurring economic growth while reducing our emissions,” Deese told reporters Tuesday.
Deese added that the U.S. and Brazil agreed to cooperate to ensure that any international agreement will be updated regularly, and to work together for more ambitious goals to control climate change in the future.