Recently approved in the Chamber of Deputies, the General Environmental Licensing Law is today one of the most serious threats to the preservation of the environment in the country. Submitted to the Senate, the new legislation, if ratified by the House, could put Brazil back on the path to entry into the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).
The current text of the bill, which has been in Congress since 2004, contradicts the promises that the country has been making to the international community, such as the Paris Agreement, which determines the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and other pacts on changes climate, such as reducing carbon and protecting forests and their populations. The new law intends to make licensing more flexible and weaken regulations that currently ensure the protection of the environment.
More than 60 civil society organizations sent a letter to the new secretary general of the OECD, Mathias Cormann, warning about the risks of Brazil’s participation in the club of rich countries, during what they called “one of the biggest institutional attacks” on the measures of protection of the environment, the climate and the country’s traditional peoples.
Joining the bloc is a political process that takes place gradually. Brazil has already adhered to some mechanisms, such as the PCN Brazil (National Point of Contact) for OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises —an important multilateral instrument to prevent and mitigate economic, social and environmental impacts resulting from the activities of multinational companies in the country.
As one of the bloc’s five key partners in the world, it is essential for Brazil to demonstrate its commitment to complying with international agreements and assumed obligations; after all, environmental protection is more of an added value for the global economy than an obstacle, contrary to what was argued by parliamentarians linked to the intensive agricultural model with no vision of the future.
During a speech at the Climate Summit, in April, President Jair Bolsonaro declared that he had doubled resources destined to inspection and strengthening of environmental agencies. In practice, in two years of government, the participation of states and civil society in Conama (National Council for the Environment) decreased, and the Cofa (Amazon Fund Guidance Committee) and the CTFA (Amazon Fund Technical Committee) were extinguished. other measures. At IBAMA, it suspended the system of environmental fines and inspection and control operations throughout 2019 and 2020.
The text approved by the Chamber on environmental licensing also proposes to withdraw the prerogative of ICMBio (Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation) to veto projects that may impact conservation units.
With the flexibility and dismantling of regulations such as environmental licensing, it will be impossible to sustain the narrative of responsibility for the environment for commercial partners increasingly concerned about the impact of their consumption. If Brazil wants to ensure international investments and be part of global trade, it must guarantee the highest standards of environmental preservation and respect for human rights.
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