Brazilian Foreign Policy in the Context of Global Climate Norms


  • Author's note: An earlier version of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association (ISA), March 16–19, 2011, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


This article is an enquiry into Brazil's evolving responses to global climate change norms. Following an overview of the evolution of international normative frameworks of climate change governance, I examine the relationship between some of these international norms and domestic environmental politics in Brazil. Internationally, the analysis focuses on the North/South political debate about climate change and its role in shaping understandings about the impact and responses to global warming. Domestically, I explore the evolving relationship between state and private actors in the decision-making process. I argue that Brazil's official position on climate change negotiations is currently influenced by a nationalist/developmental approach based on the particular worldview of the dominant faction within the foreign ministry and backed up by private groups, powerful sectors in the military establishment, key ministries, and the presidency. Yet, this worldview has been increasingly undermined/permeated by other state and nonstate actors, who are more closely aligned with the environmental concerns of international stakeholders. The ensuing domestic conflict has important implications for the legitimacy and coherence of the Brazilian position in international climate change negotiations.