20th November 2009
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is calling a meeting of eight Amazon countries next week to forge a common stand ahead of next month's key climate talks, officials said Friday.
The leaders are set to be joined by French President Nicolas Sarkozy who has hammered out a joint position with Brazil ahead of the December 7-18 Copenhagen summit, the foreign ministry said.
Leaders from the eight countries straddling the Amazon -- Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela -- have all been invited to Thursday's talks in the Brazilian city of Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon jungle.
Sarkozy has been urged to join as the territory of French Guiana is also in the Amazon region.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez have already agreed to attend, while Ecuadoran leader Rafael Correa will be away on a foreign trip. Bolivia's President Evo Morales will also not take part because of upcoming presidential elections.
On Saturday, Sarkozy and Lula da Silva said they would try to rally other nations around their "ambitious" position, which aims to reduce greenhouse gases globally by at least 50 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels.
Brazil said Friday it would offer a "voluntary" emissions cut of 36 to 39 percent at the United Nations-sponsored meeting, mainly by slowing Amazon deforestation, while Europe is pledging a 30 percent cut.
The Amazon is the planet's largest forest basin, but huge swaths of the rainforest are cut down, burnt or cleared each year, at an average rate of 1.8 million hectares (4.4 million acres) -- about the size of Kuwait.
It has been dubbed "The Lungs of the Planet" because its vegetation continuously recycles carbon-dioxide into oxygen.