RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazil has withdrawn its offer to host a large U.N. conference on climate change next year, the foreign ministry said Wednesday, in a move that environmental groups said put into question Brazil's commitment to reducing carbon emissions.
Brazil pulled its offer to host the 2019 climate change conference because of "the current fiscal and budget constraints, which are expected to remain in the near future,'' according to a foreign ministry statement sent to the Associated Press on Wednesday.
Environmental groups interpreted the decision as a nod to President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who promised during his campaign to pull Brazil out of the Paris Accord on climate change.
Since being elected, Bolsonaro has publicly wavered on those promises. However, climate scientists have said that Bolsonaro's stated intention to open the Amazon for greater development could make it impossible for Latin America's largest nation to meet its reduced emissions targets in the coming years.
The World Wildlife Fund in Brazil noted that the decision not to host next year's conference diverged from the position shared by Brazilian officials before the elections, "demonstrating the strong influence of the transition team."
"Brazil's participation is vital to meeting global targets, as our country is currently the 7th largest emitter of greenhouse gases and the Amazon has a key role in regulating global climate," said the group in a statement.
Brazil's candidacy to host next year's meeting was to be reviewed during this year's conference, which begins this weekend in Krakow, Poland.
Brazil's foreign ministry didn't immediately respond to questions about whether anybody from the current administration of President Michel Temer or Bolsonaro's transition team would attend the meeting in Poland.
Bolsonaro, who takes office Jan. 1, vowed during the campaign to help mining and agribusiness companies expand their activities in protected areas, including Amazonian forests.
Bolsonaro's pick for foreign minister, Ernesto Araujo, has also expressed skepticism about climate change.
"This dogma has served to justify an increase in the [...] power of international institutions over national states and their populations," the incoming minister wrote in an October blog post.