Environmentalists, indigenous leaders and entities working to defend the Amazon have launched an offensive against President Jair Bolsonaro in recent weeks. Focusing on the climate summit being promoted by the United States, which will bring together 40 countries on Wednesday and Thursday, including Brazil, the community is rallying to convince the international community, especially the White House under Joe White, that the Brazilian government is unreliable. When it comes to negotiating a plan to reduce deforestation in the Amazon region. Bolsonaro enters through the back door of the summit, politically isolated inside and outside the country. With the United States back in climate negotiations and announcing ambitious goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, Brazil is entering the debate as a kind of environmental outcast.
But with the unprecedented global attention that the Amazon’s decline has received, the entities also believe that there is “a room of great potential” for the relationship with other actors, not just the federal government, explains Virgilio Viana, General Supervisor of the Amazon Sustainable Foundation. “There are large private US corporations, and there is business participation, conservatives … other things that can happen in many other areas of relationships,” Viana says. For him, this week’s summit is of particular importance because the Amazon region has not had such an adequate weight in relations between Brazil and the United States. Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory, a network of 60 civil society organizations, goes in the same direction: “The United States government can fight deforestation through its development agencies, on the basis of projects with governors, indigenous communities, and universities. He can incubate projects without setting up. The money is in the hands of the federal government. “
The recent mobilization by environmentalists began as a reaction to the news that Biden was negotiating behind closed doors an agreement with Bolsonaro to limit deforestation in the Amazon, as the climate summit approaches. Last week, the Brazilian President sent Biden Speech with the promise of eliminating illegal deforestation by 2030. To this end, he highlighted the need for “substantial resources and comprehensive public policies”. Environment Minister Ricardo Salles The need for at least $ 1 billion was emphasized (R $ 5.6 billion) for a period of 12 months until the country commits to a reduction of up to 40% in deforestation. Civil society responded through letters and statements to the United States government and other Brazilian entities and authorities’ meetings with the ambassadors. In short, they seek to convey the message that Bolsonaro cannot be trusted and that it is necessary to minimize the damage to the environment as much as possible while he remains in office.
“We have a government that has been promoting environmental destruction every day for the past 28 months. It is not going to be a letter to Biden and a three-minute speech that spoils that legacy,” says Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory, a network of 60 environmental protection organizations. “What we need to do is prepare the country for the resumption of the environmental agenda in the post-Bolsonaro era.” For that to happen, it is necessary, in the first place, to reverse Bolsonaro’s decisions in favor of deforestation in the Amazon. We had a 2018, then think of a positive agenda. “
The general perception is that Brazil will support the climate summit, in the face of the risk of isolation. “The country should be in the corner of the room watching the adults speak on the main stage. Astrini explains that the Bolsonaro government is an example of what you can’t do in the environment, and it won’t provide a solution.” The background is the dramatic increase in deforestation and forest fires in 2019 and 2020. The largest tropical forest in the world The year 2021 also marked the worst month of March in the past ten yearsAccording to a survey conducted by the Institute for Man and the Environment of the Amazon (Imazon).
More than 90% of these deforestation are illegal and unrelated to agricultural production. So, eliminating deforestation means fighting organized crime in the land market, “explains scholar Carlos Nobre. This Tuesday, Ibama Servers A letter was issued to the head of the agencyEduardo Beam, noting that his inspections are paralyzed after Salles changed the environmental fines rules, which can now only be applied after undergoing a superintendent’s analysis – which “prevents” the fight against deforestation in the Amazon.
According to Andre Guimarães, Executive Director of the Institute for Environmental Research in the Amazon (IPAM), the deforestation numbers reflect this government’s neglect on the subject. “The summit is great news for the planet, but Brazil is not ready for this debate. We are entering through the back door. We will once again miss the opportunity to participate in the debate, with specific proposals, and lead this discussion, as happened in past years.”
At the start of the negotiations between Bolsonaro and Biden, more than 200 organizations He wrote a letter to the US President demanding transparency. An excerpt from the message reads: “It is unreasonable to expect that solutions for the Amazon region and its people will come from closed negotiations with their staunch enemies.” Last week, Raoni Metuktire, the leader of the Kayapu people and one of the nation’s greatest indigenous leaders, gave an important speech to Biden. I’ve always fought for the jungle and past bosses have been listening to me. Hope you can hear me too. Only this president is against me. If that bad boss says something to you, ignore him and say: He’s already talked to me, Raoni. Last Monday, the US ambassador to Brazil Todd Chapman He met with the members of the Association for the Expression of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil (Apib), Who also requested to open a direct channel with the United States, at Biden’s request. The Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, Dom Paulo Evaristo Arnes (Arnes Commission) issued a statement on April 16th warning of the setbacks fueled by the Bolsonaro government.
Meanwhile, governors from 23 states sent Biden a letter introducing themselves as actors capable of contributing to the Amazon deforestation solution if they had access to the necessary resources. “Our countries have funds and mechanisms specifically created to respond to the climate emergency, which are available for the safe and transparent application of international resources, to ensure quick and verifiable results,” the document said. Opposition MPs also joined the pressure against Bolsonaro and signed a letter, along with more than 60 civil society organizations, to defend the Amazon and against negotiations with Bolsonaro behind closed doors. On Monday, April 19, some of them participated in a meeting with the ambassadors of the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway and the European Union.
In turn, on April 10 the Federal Supreme Court (STF) launched the Judicial Environment Observatory, which is an interdisciplinary forum to promote dialogue between the judiciary and civil society. “We need to urgently address the Amazon region. Brazil can do a great service to humanity and itself by proposing a new development paradigm based on the biological economy of the forest and on generating products with high added value, based on its tremendous biodiversity,” said Minister Luis Roberto Barroso, Operations rapporteur on indigenous, climate and environmental issues, In an interview with the newspaper Or a balloon.
Bolsonaro has sought from the start of his term to weaken Ibama and withdraw her independence in the fight against deforestation. Instead, the government intends to bolster the Ministry of Environment’s National Environmental Security Force. This was one of the points of negotiation with the United States. Bolsonaro wants some kind of official militia to replace Ibama and direct the operations that will happen, such as when, against whom, and in what way, ”he explains.
Virgilio Viana of the Amazônia Sustentável Foundation says that when it comes to eradicating deforestation in the Amazon, “the hole goes downhill”, and that the “transformation” of the Bolsonaro government is unlikely. This would mean, he says, “a rupture with the basis of the Polsonari, formed by agribusiness associated with land grabbing and illegal logging.” Experts do not rule out the implementation of economic sanctions against Brazil. “The scenario is already designed. We have received criticism and threats to boycott and divestment. It is not something that will start at the summit, it is already happening. With the reordering of the most emigrated countries to achieve the goals, we will be excluded from the debate and criticism of Brazil will tend to increase in the coming years,” Guimarães explains From IPAM.
Support news production like this. Subscribe to EL PAÍS for 30 days for $ 1
Participation Here To receive the daily newsletter from EL PAÍS Brasil: reports, analyzes, exclusive interviews and key information of the day in your email, Monday through Friday. Participation Also, receive our weekly newsletter on Saturday, with highlights of coverage during the week.