BRAZIL-OIL/By Ray Colitt

Copenhagen summit attendees may be wondering why Brazil’s delegation to the U.N. climate meeting is being led not by its environment minister but by the president’s chief of staff. The answer is: elections next year in Brazil.

Chief of Staff Dilma Rousseff is the government’s likely candidate in next October’s general election and wants to boost her environmental credentials. She was nudged into action after internationally-renowned Amazon defender Marina Silva joined the presidential race and pledged to put the environment on the campaign agenda.

Ironically, it was Environment Minister Carlos Minc who saw the chance for Brazil to take a leadership position in global climate talks and Rousseff who was one of the more reticent members of government to accept aggressive emissions targets.

Still, in Copenhagen Rousseff has made sure everyone knows she is in charge by publicly correcting Minc’s statement on Brazil’s demand for climate mitigation funds.

 “The isolation of Environment Minister Carlos Minc is raising eyebrows here in Copenhagen,” said Senator Marina Silva, Minc’s predecessor.