Analysis: Brazil brings big green plans to COP26. But her results are sad

The government has given priority to investment and credit for the growth of the agricultural industry in the country – a sector that is often at odds with the protection of large-scale Brazilian wilderness.

“I reaffirm our commitment to creating a neutral greenhouse gas economy while creating jobs and contributing to Brazil’s income,” Leite said at the Brazilian pavilion in Glasgow on Monday.

“Brazil is part of the solution,” he promised, echoing Bolsonar’s pre-recorded video message to the summit.

How will Brazil do it

Last week, the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment unveiled a “Green Growth” program to achieve its climate goals.

V press release, said the program will attract investment from the global market and create sustainable jobs. Bolsonaro signed two ordinances the establishment of a program and a monitoring committee, but the government has so far not defined specific objectives or accountability mechanisms for measuring program performance.

Perhaps most importantly, the program plan does not address the prevention of deforestation at the federal level. Deforestation is the biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil, which is the sixth largest carbon polluter in the world, according to environmental supervisor Climate Observatory.

Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions increased by 9.5% in 2020 – contrary to trends caused by the pandemic in other parts of the world – compared to data collected by the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessment System, a platform that monitors greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil.

The cause? Deforestation.

“If the Brazilian forest were a country, it would be the ninth largest polluter in the world, ahead of Germany,” the study says.

Bolsonaro, who is in next year’s election, has long positioned himself as a pro-business president, focused primarily on strengthening the country’s economy. It is appropriate that the most anticipated “green growth” projects are designed to compensate farmers and ranchers for environmental protection, improve their technologies so that they can become low-emission producers, help them access the carbon market and invest in the biofuels industry.

“The biggest challenge for‘ green companies ’is to undo the idea that government measures are only punitive,” Leite told the audience during a ceremony on October 25th.

Brazilian Environment Minister Ricardo Salles has resigned over an investigation into illegal logging in the Amazon
One of the named programs Green rural producer certificate “It is a payment instrument for environmental services to farmers with a view to promoting environmental conservation, as well as adopting technologies and good practices that reconcile agricultural and forestry productivity with reducing environmental impacts,” the statement said.
The purpose of the second project, called ‘Forest + Agro’, is to offer financial incentives to rural producers to protect reserves and areas of permanent protection. But the main project is ABC + plan, which offers producers a line of credit to promote low-carbon farming.

But Sergio Leitão, director of the Escolhas Institute in Brazil, a research center focused on sustainable development, says the plan merely restates existing sustainable development goals without allocating new funds to them.

“When you look at this plan, it has nothing. It repackages existing projects and contracts. And those projects already exist, but investment in a sustainable and low-carbon agricultural company is still very low,” Leitão says, referring to government investment. .

Suely Araujo, a senior public policy expert at the Climate Observatory, adds that she doubts the government’s ability to monitor the sustainability of rural producers.

“Today, the instrument I would use to certify and compensate rural holdings – the CAR (Rural Register) – has not yet reached its final stage, when the information provided by the farmer is cross-checked and validated by a state agency,” says Suely Araujo.

Aerial view of the burning area of ​​the Amazon rainforest reserve, south of Novo Progresso in the state of Para, 16 August 2020.

So far, it has failed to prevent deforestation

The results of the Bolsonar administration so far have been poor. In the first year of Bolsonar’s term, in 2019, deforestation in the Amazon increased by 34%. The following year, it increased by another 7%, according to INPE, the government agency that monitors deforestation in the country.

This year, INPE predicts a small reduction in deforestation rates of about 1 to 2% – but that still means that more than 7,000 square kilometers of forest were destroyed from January 2021 to September, almost nine times the area of ​​New York. .

Ninety percent of all felled areas in the Amazon biome have been converted to pasture August report the Imazon Sustainable Development Research Group or the Amazon Institute of Man and Environment.
The government is too reduce resources and promote decommissioning environmental agencies and withdraw the protection of the remaining forest areas, including indigenous territories, national or state parks, extractive reserves and all land remaining under state control.

Parts of the Amazon, which serves as a carbon sink for the world, are now turning into a source of carbon emissions not only because of deforestation, fires and land use, but also because increasingly dry conditions are burdening trees, a recent INPE study shows. Greenhouse Gas Laboratory.

“Deforestation causes an impact in dry season conditions. Drought conditions become warmer, drier and longer. As a result, the forest itself is more stressed, causing trees to die, resulting in more emissions than absorption. This forest becomes a source because mortality ( trees) is greater than growth from the forest, ”says one of the leading researchers, Luciana Gatti.

Meanwhile, two laws are currently being debated in Congress that could further encourage deforestation: granting an amnesty for illegal land occupation, facilitating the regulation of illegally felled public land, and mining and other activities in indigenous territories.

A country that is already under threat

Brazil has already suffered a series of severe climate crises over the past year: extreme temperatures followed by intense floods, severe droughts, resulting in the worst water shortages in 90 years.

According to the State electrosystem operator, the lack of water in reservoirs and dams of hydroelectric power plants has also caused an energy crisis, forcing the state to turn on its thermal power plants and import energy from neighboring countries.

Intense drought and record frosts this year have also damaged agricultural production in Brazil. The National Supply Company (Conab) forecast that the total volume of cereal production for 2021 will be 1.2% lower than last year, despite the fact that the sown area increased by 4%.

The effects of Brazil’s unsustainable development to date can be clearly seen in the Amazon country of Rondônia. When CNN flew across the country in September with the Amazon and Flames Alliance, a partnership of environmental organizations, he was able to notice that farms and ranches became rarer as they approached Mapinguari National Park. But within a few miles, large scars of burnt forest and trees still on fire became visible – areas that will soon turn into pastures.

Indigenous boys' drowning raises allegations of illegal mining
According to the Brazilian land use mapping project MapBiomas, Rondônia has the fastest deforestation rate between 1985 and 2020 in Brazil, losing about 38% of its total indigenous forest coverage.

The remaining forest of Rondonia is today found only within protected areas, namely public parks, indigenous territories and reserves. It has become a series of unconnected pieces of forest that are under constant invasion by illegal loggers, miners and predators.

A dangerous country for the environment

And while the Brazilian government may present an optimistic front at COP26 this month, many of those working for a better planet at home are risking their lives.

Last year, 20 advocates of land and the environment were murdered in Brazil, according to the monitoring organization Global Witness.

Members of the Rioterra Study Center, an organization dedicated to developing projects that combine conservation and sustainability in Rondônia, told CNN they had recently faced death threats because of their work.

In an environmental defense, 227 people died last year, a new report shows.  That's a record.

Milton da Costa, who works for Rioterra, which coordinates large-scale land restoration and afforestation projects within the Conservation Units, caught two armed men in mid-September this year and received death threats for trying to carry out an afforestation project near Machadinho. d’Oeste.

“I looked at him and saw that he also had a gun with him, probably 38 (a gun). The other guy told him: shoot him, shoot him right away. Then he said, ‘No, we just came here to give him a message. , if he doesn’t stop planting these trees there, we’ll be back, ”says Costa.

Philip Wang of CNN in Atlanta and Camilo Rocha of Sao Paulo contributed to this report.

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