November 27, 2022

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In Brazil’s elections, the future of the Amazon is at stake

In Brazil's elections, the future of the Amazon is at stake

While Brazilians head to the polls Sunday future Amazon At stake, experts warned.

The two front-runners in the presidential election are political heavyweights who offer opposing visions of how to raise money. Millions of people are hungryreversing the country’s declining prosperity, and managing its vast biodiversity.

right wing President Jair Bolsonaro He oversaw a four-year period marked by record rates of deforestation and reduced environmental protection. While his main rival, former leftist president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, pledged to tackle illegal deforestation in the Amazon after overseeing the decline of deforestation during his eight years in office in 2010.

“It really is a critical moment,” said Mercedes Bustamante, a professor at the University of Brasilia in Brazil and a member of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group. “It’s the Amazon, every other Brazilian biome that’s seeing the same increase in deforestation rates,” she said.

Deforestation of the Amazon has boomed under the right-wing Brazilian president, who took office in 2019 after pledging to build more rainforests and dismissing global concerns about their destruction. At the end of 2021, deforestation there reached its highest level in 15 years after jumping 22 percent in one year. Then in July, Tree loss rate hit an all-time high During the first six months of the year, after destroying an area five times the size of New York City.

Bolsonaro’s loss could reduce deforestation by nearly 90 percent over the next decade, According to a recent analysis for environmental publishing Carbon Brief.

But the fate of the Amazon does not only concern Brazil.

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“Without the Amazon, we are losing the battle against climate change,” said Bill Leon, senior advisor for the Latin America program at the WWF. “The Amazon plays an important role in storing carbon and regulating the world’s climate because it releases water into the atmosphere.”

It is the largest rainforest in the world, one of the richest places on Earth in terms of biodiversity, and an important stock of carbon. Trees are essential to slowing climate change because they absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that leads to a rapid rate of global warming.

last year, I found a study That parts of the Amazon have turned into a net carbon rather than a carbon sink due to deforestation, an intensified dry season resulting in an increased number of fires. She also cited other studies that found global warming is causing increased tree mortality and reduced photosynthesis across the Amazon.

Jair Bolsonaro at a military parade marking the 200th anniversary of Brazil’s independence on September 7.

(AFP via Getty Images)

“It is perilously approaching a critical tipping point that could see vast swaths of resilient, humid rainforest transformed into a dry, fire-ravaged and irreversibly degraded state,” said Ms. Lyon. “In addition to being a tragedy for the people and wildlife that is the home of the Amazon, we will not be able to limit global warming to 1.5°C, with consequences for the entire planet.”

This tipping point could occur in the next decade, said Alexander Koberl, an advanced research fellow at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London.

“Evidence is that once you get to 20 percent of deforestation, that becomes an almost irreversible feedback loop, and we’re almost at this point,” he said.

So the risks are great.

“It’s very important,” Mr. Cooper said of the elections. “We need a shift in how the country approaches the Amazon.”

The experts said independent That with Bolsonaro’s victory, this shift was not likely to occur.

“If Bolsonaro wins, we’ll get more of the same, a consolidation of anti-environmental rhetoric and action, maybe more deforestation, more land grabs,” he said. If Mr. Lula wins, commentators said things could change, but cautioned that it wouldn’t be easy.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva


First, the composition of Congress and who gets elected as governors during the election will determine how much change Mr. Lula can make.

Then he has to deal with parts of a powerful agricultural lobby that uses the land to grow beef and soybeans and doesn’t want to change their practices, as well as weak law enforcement in the area.

Mr. Kōberle said there are international stakeholders to work with as well – such as Europe – a major importer of agricultural commodities from Brazil.

But Mr. Lula could boost funding for environmental law enforcement agencies, whose budgets have been cut under Bolsonaro and whose powers have prevailed, and he can reconnect with the international community on climate, Coberl said.

“Decisions made by the Brazilian government after this election will have consequences for the entire world, but it is also important that other countries, including the UK, ensure that all products associated with deforestation are removed from product supply chains,” Ms Leon said.

independent Contact the Brazilian government for comment.