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BRICS environment meeting moves to secure low carbon future

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner met the environment ministers of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) on April 22 in Moscow to discuss a strategy for sustainability, competitiveness in a Green Economy and cooperation in tackling the threat of climate change. This was the first official meeting between the BRICS environment ministers, who also agreed on the sharing of the best environmental practices, the exchange of environmentally sound technologies and know-how with participation of public and private stakeholders. The ministers agreed to hold their meetings on a regular basis.The fruitful discussions showed that the Summit could play a critical role in ensuring a "low carbon future" for the entire world. Mr. Steiner noted that the discussion signalled that BRICS member states are “among the most actively reforming and innovative” when it comes to sustainable development efforts. "China is taking the lead in green technologies and renewable energy. They have contributed to the reduced prices of renewable energy technologies," the UNEP Executive Director underlined as an example. Furthermore, China has also been helping African countries deal with environmental challenges through its International Ecosystems Management Partnership - a joint initiative with UNEP - which has improved the use of scientific knowledge in handling issues such as climate change.

The BRICS meeting also served to prepare for the upcoming UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties meeting in Paris later this year, at which efforts will be made to reach a binding agreement on tackling climate change. BRICS countries, according to data from 2010, contribute about 40 percent to global greenhouse gas emissions.

"We look forward to this Conference of Parties as a forum for collective response to climate change," said Steiner. "These types of conferences enable countries to move faster. We need accelerated efforts to stay within the 2 degrees Celsius limit. Countries must therefore act within their means."

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