Brazil backed out of hosting next year's United Nations climate change summit this week, just a month before the inauguration of far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro.
The summit was scheduled for November 2019, and the U.N. will now have to find a new venue.
In a statement provided to The New York Times, Brazil’s Foreign Ministry said the decision was made to save money. It also cited the “transition process” as Bolsonaro prepares to take office.
The decision to pull out appears to be the latest signal that Brazil is no longer interested in being a leader in fighting climate change.
Bolsonaro has pledged to roll back environmental restrictions and give power to commercial ventures in the Amazon and other protected Brazilian biomes.
Rainforest deforestation in Brazil is at its worst level in a decade, and environmental experts are concerned that it will only get worse with Bolsonaro in charge.
Bolsonaro promised to limit fines for damaging forests during his campaign. An aide has also said that the president-elect's new administration will merge the agriculture and environmental ministries, BBC reported.
Ernesto Araújo, Bolsonaro's pick for foreign minister, called global efforts to curb climate change a plot by "Marxists" to hurt the economies of capitalist democracies and boost China's international standing.
“The image of Brazil is at risk,” Carlos Rittl, executive secretary of the Brazilian Climate Observatory, told the Times. “Climate and the environment are the only issues where Brazil is a leader in global terms. We are not leaders in world trade, we are not leaders in a geopolitical sense on security issues. But on climate and environment we are leaders, and we are giving that up.”