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12 November 2014, Gateway House

Green Party speak

The Green Party in Brazil is a small but significant presence, whose ideas of reform and conservation are gaining wider acceptance. In this interview, Eduardo Jorge, the party’s leader, discusses what BRICS represents, his views on India, and the response of governments and business to climate change

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Eduardo Jorge, the leader of the Green Party in Brazil, contested the October 5 presidential elections in Brazil, stood at sixth place, and was thus eliminated from the race. Jorge, a public health physician, has campaigned for the legalisation of abortion and for the generic production of drugs.  Rajni Bakshi, Senior Gandhi Peace Fellow, Gateway House, met Jorge during a visit to Sao Paulo in October. Excerpts from the conversation:

Q. Does BRICS represent a geographical realignment of power centres or could it be a paradigm shift towards new ways of holding and wielding power?

With the U.S. and China fighting for supremacy, it has basically become a  U.S.-China dispute, and only then is it about the rest of us. Although the BRICS formulation is a reaction to American power, it too favours China. As such, at present the BRICS discourse is within the traditional frame of power.

But even if power shifts grographically among the regions of the world, a paradigm shift will still be necessary. It is now a survival issue, not a choice—most countries presume that they can save themselves within their borders, but that will not be possible.

A paradigm shift requires changes in consumption habits, but leaders keep delaying this change to in order to win elections. Instead, the political classes must encourage people to live simply and equitably.

Q. Where is Brazil’s Green Party located in this context? 

The Green Party in Brazil is very small.  But our ideas are gaining sympathy with other parties. Our vision is international. We aspire to a federation of nations based on the idea of the United Nations. The Green Party wants Brazil to maintain trade with all countries. We believe commerce favours peace. In the political sphere, we want bonds with parties that support human rights, labour rights, democracy, and pacifism. We stand for reform to bridge the rich-poor gap; a revolution for simpler living; and the conservation of ecology.

Q. What are your views on India?

India is a giant of culture, population, and history. Even though it has problems of inclusion and issues like Kashmir, India is a democracy.  This makes it very different from China. The Green Party wants political proximity with India.

Q. How do you assess the responses to climate change by governments and businesses? 

An effective response to climate change requires leaving two-thirds of fossil fuels untapped. But Brazil is using fossil fuels like there is no tomorrow, because we have found big oil wells. Brazil thinks that it is alright to use fossil fuels because other countries have done so earlier. But huge inequalities exist within Brazil, the country contains a developed as well as a developing world. Both situations are unsustainable.

But now even some multinationals and politicians are in the process of making changes.  Countries that want to be big powers even a 100 years from now are taking climate change seriously. Some cities are trying to implement the framework of environmental sustainability, economic efficiency, and social inclusion and justice.

Some companies are working towards a zero garbage goal; Unilever is one example. It has a huge plant in Brazil, which will be an example of zero waste during the production process (as part of a zero landfill project).

The Green Party is working to establish a dialogue with left-wing and right-wing parties, and hopes to influence both. The aim is to help both the left and right to transcend their problems and limitations and aim for a better model.

Rajni Bakshi is the Gandhi Peace Fellow at Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations.

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