São Paulo, Brazil – The Brazilian government wants the US and other rich nations to pay billions of dollars upfront to protect the Amazon rainforest, a key natural stronghold in the fight against climate change.
But indigenous leaders, climate activists, and a group of US Democrats have warned US President Joe Biden not to hand over any cash to Jair Bolsonaro’s government, total Brazil’s far-right populist regime, with which deforestation has increased dramatically.
“The current Brazilian government is simply not to be trusted,” Sonia Guajajara, the coordinator of the Organization for Indigenous Peoples (APIB) of Brazil, an advocacy group for Indigenous Peoples, told Al Jazeera.
Both administrations have been hoping to reach an agreement that will be announced when the White House holds a Climate Leaders Summit on April 22 and 23, who are close to negotiations for know. But this week, hopes for a deal seem stalled.
Bolsonaro’s Environment Minister Ricardo Salles told Reuters on Friday night that he did not expect a deal to be announced at next week’s summit, but talks with the US would continue. .
“The determination of President Jair Bolsonaro to eliminate illegal deforestation is very important. We expect immediate action and participation of indigenous peoples and civil society to make this announcement possible, ”climate envoy John Kerry tweeted on Friday. .
Meanwhile, Raoni Metuktire, one of Brazil’s most iconic Indigenous leaders, has released a video urging Biden to ignore Bolsonaro’s promise to reduce illegal deforestation to zero by 2030. if your government receives funding from the US.
Environmentalists note that the 2030 target was promised by Brazil when it signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 under then Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. But since then deforestation has been continued to increase year after year.
Fifteen US senators, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, also sent one letter to Biden on Friday warned that any aid to Brazil must be conditional on the results of deforestation reduction.
Senators referenced a 2019 Human Rights Watch report, Rainforest Mafias, to note that “deforestation is largely due to powerful criminal networks using threats and violence – with near impunity – against those seeking to protect rainforests ”.
“President Bolsonaro’s words and policies effectively green light the dangerous criminals operating in the Amazon, allowing them to significantly expand their operations,” they said.
Brazil’s Amazon deforestation is still far below its 2004 peak but has risen sharply in the two years since Bolsonaro took office, during which time the president has cut his indigenous and cornering agencies with loyal allies.
By 2020, despite the coronavirus pandemic, Deforestation in the Amazon rises to its highest level in 12 years with 11,088 square kilometers (4,281 square miles) of cut forest, according to Brazil’s National Space Agency – a 9.5 percent increase over the previous year.
Meanwhile, March 2021 was the worst month of the month in recent history with 367.61 square kilometers (141.94 square miles) destroyed, a 12.4 percent increase from the previous year. The month marks the end of heavy rains in many regions and the onset of the dry season, when loggers, farmers and land grabbers traditionally clear the land before the August fire season.
The increase in deforestation and forest fires has led to confrontations between Bolsonaro and world leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, and has caused threats to boycott and divest from European company and fund manager.
During a US presidential debate last September, Biden suggested that Brazil could receive $ 20 billion to “stop deforestation” but warned of “significant economic consequences” for not doing so. , Bolsonaro commented at the time as “catastrophic”. .
Salles, Brazil’s Environment Minister, told Estado de S Paulo earlier this month that with $ 1 billion annually from the US and other countries, Brazil could reduce deforestation by 40%.
But environmentalists scoffed at Salles’ demand, pointing out that $ 540,000 ($ 3 billion) has been inactive since 2019 in Brazil’s Amazon Fund, largely supplied by Norway and Germany. for deforestation reduction projects.
Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Brazilian Climate Observatory, a network of 50 civil society groups, told Al Jazeera: “If reducing deforestation is really their priority, they will use the money. in the Amazon fund.