President Lula Says "Brazil is Back" On Climate

President Lula Says "Brazil is Back" On Climate

Brazil is back in action on climate change with a new progressive leader about to take the helm. Last week on Biodiversity Day at COP27, the country’s new president-elect, Luiz Inácio da Silva, pledged to reverse the harmful, pro-deforestation policies put in place by his far-right predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.

Source: Vox, October 3, 2022.

Guardian: Bolsonaro’s war on the Amazon | Examining evidence of crimes against Indigenous people, September 6, 2022.

Guardian: How the Amazon has started to heat the planet | It's Complicated, August 11, 2022.

Lula’s plans for Brazil involve a total overhaul of current environmental government policy to achieve zero deforestation in the Amazon by 2030, in line with the Glasgow Forest Declaration launched last year at COP26. Throughout his presidential campaign, Lula also pledged to create green jobs, an Indigenous Affairs Ministry, and a Brazil-Indonesia-Democratic Republic of the Congo jungle conservation alliance.

Under his leadership, Brazilian diplomats are optimistic that the nation can restore credibility at the negotiating table in order to obtain financing from wealthier nations through the previously suspended Amazon Fund. Many Indigenous people in the Amazon are optimistic, too -- Puyr dos Santos Tembé, leader of the Tembé People and of the Indigenous Peoples’ Federation of the State of Pará, told Mongabay.

CBC News: The National | Brazil’s president-elect injects optimism into COP27, November 16, 2022.

Democracy Now!: Amazon Leader Welcomes Climate Vow from Brazil’s Lula to End Deforestation with Indigenous Help, November 17, 2022.

PBS: Will the Amazon rainforest’s chances improve with Brazil’s new leader?, November 12, 2022.

Vox: Brazil’s Lula da Silva |E xplained, October 25, 2022.

Why This Matters

The Amazon is one of the world’s most essential carbon sinks, but years of accelerating deforestation under Bolsonaro’s presidency mean that the biome is now emitting more carbon than it can absorb in many areas. The rainforest has reached a "tipping point” and is now at risk of becoming a dry savannah -- 13% has already been destroyed, and another 17% is extremely degraded from harmful activities such as logging. Conservation and reforestation of the Amazon is essential to security and emissions reduction on both a national and global scale. As Indigenous activist Txai Suruí told CNN: "that agenda -- of the Amazon, of climate change, of the environment -- it’s a global agenda. If Lula does not address it, it won’t just be us, indigenous people, that will be knocking on his door, it’ll be the entire world.”

New York Times: Brazil’s Presidential Election Will Determine the Planet’s Future | NYT Opinion, October 28, 2022.

NBC: Deforestation of Amazon Rainforests Surges to Record Level, May 31, 2022.

Reuters: Why is the Amazon rainforest burning?, August 11, 2022.

Bloomberg: How Big Beef Is Fueling the Amazon’s Destruction, January 22, 2022.

Reuters: Satellites measure cow burps from space, May 4, 2022.

The Goal From Glasgow

Little progress has been made on deforestation in the year following COP26 -- though 145 countries made a pledge to end deforestation by 2030, only about 22% of the $12 billion committed in funding was actually dispersed to at-risk areas. But this goal gained new momentum at COP27 with the launch of the Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership (FCLP), which plans to mobilize public and private funding to address biodiversity loss and its related consequences.

Still, the pledges made at COP26 and COP27 ring hollow, as Brazil is not alone in engaging in widespread deforestation -- global banks are often footing the bill by buying bonds from major agribusinesses, often despite climate promises.

Source: Global Forest Watch / World Resources Institute, April 2022.

Channel 4: COP26 | Will countries be able to deliver on deforestation pledge, November 2, 2021.

Forest 500: A climate wake-up | But business failing to hear the alarm on deforestation, January 12, 2022.

DW: Banks increase funding for fossil fuels despite 'net-zero’ pledges, February 15, 2022.

OurEden: Your Bank is Funding Climate Change, November 13, 2021.

The US is also a major culprit, despite the nation’s words at COP. A new report released by the Climate Forests coalition shows that US agencies are currently looking at logging projects on about 370,000 acres of mature and old-growth trees. Though the US plans to invest in carbon offset programs elsewhere to compensate for the damage, experts emphasize that the only effective way to reduce emissions is forest conservation and a halt on fossil new fuel production. One member of the coalition, Center for Biological Diversity Energy and Justice Director Jean Su, told Inside Climate News:

[Offsets are] a scheme that has never worked to achieve deep decarbonisation. The best thing that we can do is ditch these market mechanisms, to stop talking about commodification of forests, and start actual protection. What we’re asking for from a domestic standpoint is, President Biden, if you want to live up to your global pledge, start at home.

The Economist: How do carbon markets work?, October 1, 2021.

Bloomberg: These Trees Are Not What They Seem, April 20, 2021.

The Economist: Climate change | Can money stop deforestation?, November 1, 2022.