Brazil will not sign on to UN anti-deforestation declaration
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Brazil will not sign on to UN anti-deforestation declaration

Brazil’s president touted the country’s progress on environmental issues at a United Nations climate summit Tuesday, even as the country’s environment minister said the country will not sign on to a global anti-deforestation initiative being unveiled at the meeting.

Despite its critical role in protecting the Amazon rainforest, Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira, speaking on the eve of Tuesday’s climate summit, said Brazil was “not invited to be engaged in the preparation process” of the declaration.

Instead, she says Brazil was given a copy of the text and asked to endorse it without being allowed to suggest any changes.

An official with the U.N. Development Program, Charles McNeill, disputes that assertion, saying Brazil did not respond when asked to participate.

There was no desire to exclude Brazil,” said McNeill. “They are the most important country in this area. An effort that involves Brazil is much more powerful and impactful than one that doesn’t.”

The declaration has not been publicly released but it is expected to be endorsed by many countries, corporations and major environmental groups.

Meanwhile, in a speech Tuesday, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff touted the country’s progress on environmental issues, saying that the rate of deforestation has been cut by 79 percent in recent years and that the country expects to meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 36-39 percent by 2020.

Read more: The battle to save Brazil’s Amazon forests

Brazilian government officials say they are working on their own climate and environmental policy initiatives.

Brazil’s refusal to sign the agreement, which supporters have hoped will gain wide support, illustrates the ongoing difficulty of reaching a consensus on the best ways for the international community to fight climate change.

Additional reporting by Alexandra Olson, Associated Press