Under fire for his environmental policies, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will skip climate talks in Glasgow next week and instead visit an Italian town awarding him honorary citizenship, Rome said Thursday.
The president's provisional itinerary shows Bolsonaro will attend the G20 summit in Rome this weekend before heading to Anguillara Veneta in northeast Italy on Monday.
Other world leaders will be in Glasgow Monday for the start of the UN COP26 climate talks.
Bolsonaro and his government have faced biting criticism on the environment, especially in the wake of massive deforestation in Brazil – and associated greenhouse gas emissions.
He's also under fire for his Covid policy.
On Tuesday, a Brazilian Senate commission endorsed a report that seeks to indict Bolsonaro for nine crimes, including crimes against humanity, over his Covid response.
Some 606,000 Brazilians have died from Covid-19, second only to the United States.
The citizenship decision by Anguillara Veneta, approved by the city council, has caused a stir in Italy.
The spokesman for the regional opposition, Arturo Lorenzoni, called it "a slap in the face for the values of the Constitution."
But mayor Alessandra Buoso, a member of the far-right League party, told AFP that the honorary citizenship was "to reward the welcome that migrants from Anguillara Veneta have received in Brazil."
About a thousand inhabitants of the town fled poverty to emigrate to Brazil at the end of the 19th century, among them Bolsonaro's ancestors.
The Brazilian leader is suffering low approval ratings at home, one year ahead of an election that polls predict him to lose.
Earlier this month, he was accused of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court for his alleged role in the destruction of the Amazon.
The complaint brought by Austrian environmental justice campaigners AllRise accused Bolsonaro of waging a widespread campaign resulting in the murder of environmental defenders and of endangering the global population through emissions caused by deforestation.
Earlier this week, Brazil's Vice-President Hamilton Mourão suggested the country would continue a confrontational negotiating strategy at COP26, renewing calls for other countries to pay Brazil to preserve the Amazon.
Brazi's Environment Minister Joaquim Leite will lead the country's COP26 delegation.