With the void left by Bolsonaro, Colombia seeks fame in the pro-Amazon – sustainability agendas

Phil Noble/REUTERS

Glasgow – The space left by the government Jair Bolsonaro In the ecological rivalry between the countries of the so-called Global South, it did not remain empty for long. Colombia has filled the void left by its neighbour. Although about two-thirds Amazon In Brazil, the country headed by Ivan Duque Marquez is the attention and actions that stand out since before Climate Summit for the United Nations (COP-26).

In Glasgow, where the week-long conference was held, Duque held a series of meetings with heads of state. Among them is US President Joe Biden. It was the first time the two had met face to face, the American Democrat in the Mask, and the South American without him. In addition to having equally conservative bases, the similarities with Bolsonaro end there.

Duque is advancing into the void left by the country, not only by focusing on Bolsonaro’s environmental “soft power” assets, but also on other negotiations and future earnings of USP Felipe Loureiro. “When one country advances on a (geopolitical) plate, it gains prestige over others.”

In 2019, on the same day that Bolsonaro, in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly, stated that there were “fallacies” about the Amazon, Duque spoke out against the politicization of fires in the region. Now, while Bolsonaro has not even set foot in the UK for the COP and opted to stay in Italy after the G-20 meeting to be greeted by a local far-right politician, Duque has not only met foreign officials, but has. She sold the image of a country committed to fighting deforestation. He was alongside British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in announcing the Forest Protection Convention with the accession of more than 100 countries. Days later, he was with French President Emmanuel Macron.

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“We cannot leave the COP without giving concrete answers to the world, and we must remember this summit because we have put an end to the empty rhetoric and embodied hope of generations asking for our best,” Duque wrote on social networks.

In Scotland, he also encouraged Colombian agriculture and made $33.5 million (184 million R$) to contain devastation in the Amazon and reduce greenhouse gases. The money came from an alliance with Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom.

The first two, by the way, are the same countries that have pumped more than 3 billion reais into the Amazon fund, which has been frozen since the beginning of the Bolsonaro administration. On the subject, in 2019, the Brazilian president addressed the Scandinavian country: “Norway is not the one that kills whales there, is it in the Arctic, is it? This is exploring for oil there too? It has nothing to offer us” He went further and also suggested using Norwegian money to reforest Germany.

There is no void in international relations. Andre Pereira de Carvalho, professor of FGV, says if one country leaves the scene, another will take the place. According to him, since Brazil created friction regarding the Amazon fund, Norway was considering taking the funding to the neighboring country.

“It’s unbelievable that Brazil is not taking advantage of this moment,” says Loreiro. “It will not be easy to rebuild the country’s image. This could take decades.”

However, the local reality of the leader of the Andean country is not pacifist and engaged. Colombia is considered the most dangerous place in the world for environmentalists: 65 of the 227 murders of environmental activists were recorded in the country in 2020, according to the NGO Global Witness.

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According to Colombian activist Laura Morales, of the Citizen Climate Lobby, Duque is marketing for environmental actions that come from civil society. “A lot of what he does is propaganda. He says some of the results he makes have never passed through the government, yet he insists he says they belong to his administration. Wanted, the Colombian government did not respond to requests for an interview in the report.

However, in the eyes of the international community, the Right has managed to reconcile its political and ideological convictions with a position in line with the one required by the climate emergency that we are already feeling in different parts of the planet.

According to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations panel of scientists, the Earth is warming faster than expected and is preparing to reach 1.5°C above pre-industrial level in the 2030s, ten years ago than that expected. As a result, extreme weather events will occur more frequently, such as floods and heat waves.

While Brazil quarrels with Amazon fund financiers and has negative deforestation rates, Colombia has done the opposite. Despite the fact that in 2019, the country lost an area of ​​forest equal to the city of São Paulo, the 159 thousand hectares lost of vegetation cover represents a 19% decrease compared to the previous year.

Several years ago Colombia was marked by a series of reforms. It is no coincidence that it joins the OECD and NATO and Brazil is still outside of it,” says Helena Margarido Moreira, Coordinator of the International Relations Course at Anhembi Morumbi.

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To her, during the COP, Brazil appeared to be practicing a return to its previous environmental policy with declarations such as an end to illegal logging of forests with a deadline and a methane agreement, but “nothing different from what the Bolsonaro government has been doing from the start”, he says, In reference to the international community’s doubts about the length of the agreements.

He says that the way Brazil implements environmental policies should raise eyebrows even on the right. “The Bolsonaro government sees the environmental agenda as being on the left, but there is no contradiction in the position of the Colombian government, which is also on the right,” he says.

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