(Adds State Department comment; adds WASHINGTON to dateline)
BRASILIA/WASHINGTON, July 30 (Reuters) - Brazilian state
governors met with U.S. climate envoy John Kerry on Friday,
sidestepping their country's president, Jair Bolsonaro, in the
first of several meetings with foreign powers to request funding
for conservation projects aimed at combating climate change.
Bolsonaro has rolled back environmental enforcement and
called for construction on protected areas since taking office
in 2019, contributing to a surge in deforestation and wildfires
in the Amazon rainforest and other biomes seen as critical to
curbing climate change.
Seven state leaders from the Governors for Climate alliance
presented a list of projects to Kerry in the virtual meeting,
according to statements from governors following the meeting.
Kerry discussed how the U.S. can support Brazil's efforts to
fight illegal deforestation, its programs to mitigate climate
change and its goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas
emissions, a State Department spokesperson said.
The meeting comes after at least 23 state governors in the
alliance sent a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden in April
signaling a desire to cooperate on sustainability initiatives in
light of the "climate emergency."
The projects could be executed in two to six years and
create more than 150,000 green jobs, although the total
investment required has yet to be determined, the Espirito Santo
state government said in a statement. The projects are located
across Brazil and not confined to the Amazon region.
Flavio Dino, the left-wing governor of Maranhao who
represented the Amazon states in the meeting, told Reuters that
he had requested support for the region's Green Recovery Plan,
unveiled earlier this month. That plan seeks to spend 1.5
billion reais ($287.75 million) to curb destruction and promote
"Of course, the role of the states increases if the federal
government doesn't do its job," Dino said. "Brazil being in the
supposed position of environmental villain, or a place open to
environmental crime, isn't good for anyone."
Bolsonaro's office did not immediately respond to a request
Dino said that Kerry was friendly throughout, even when he
expressed concerns about the continued rise in deforestation in
Espirito Santo Governor Renato Casagrande said in an online
broadcast following the meeting with Kerry that the governors
would next hold technical-level meetings with Kerry's team on
Governors for Climate is also seeking to meet with China,
the European Union and other international organizations,
according to the Espirito Santo government.
($1 = 5.2128 reais)
(Reporting by Jake Spring; Additional reporting by Eduardo
Simoes in Sao Paulo and Valerie Volcovici in Washington; Editing
by Aurora Ellis and Leslie Adler)