Minister lies to speech at COP26 and wins 2nd anti-prize in Brazil – 11/11/2021 – Environment

In a speech lasting about five minutes in the so-called high-level segment of COP26, a climate conference that is trying to close the rules of the Paris Agreement, the Minister of the Environment of Brazil, Joaquim Leite, lied about the goals for reducing polluting gases presented in Glasgow.

The minister said that the country had announced “even more ambitious” climate targets. In fact, the Bolsonaro government had worsened the targets in 2020, compared to what it had promised in 2015, and, at the COP, it partially corrected this setback.

The correction was not enough to increase the amount of polluting gases that Brazil intends to cut, according to calculations by the CAT (Climate Action Tracker), the main climate analysis coalition in the world.

“Under Bolsonaro, all climate and environment figures for the country have gone back. Deforestation and national emissions have grown consecutively. The world no longer believes in anything that is said by this government,” said Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory (network of dozens of environmental entities), after the minister’s speech.

Another statement by Leite was criticized by environmental and indigenous rights organizations: “We also recognize that where there is a lot of forest, there is also a lot of poverty.”

The phrase was used as an argument to defend the government’s plans to “promote sustainable development” in the Amazon, through a market for environmental services.

“Several studies over the last 20 years have shown that there is no link between the forest and poverty,” stated members of the Climate Observatory in their blog.

They cite three studies that indicate that, in reality, it is deforestation that is linked to poverty. One of them is a classic work from 2004, in which Imazon researchers showed that, despite an initial increase in the HDI, deforested regions suffer a substantial and lasting deterioration in indicators after resource depletion.

Other recent surveys go in the same direction: the 2018 Amazon Social Progress Index showed no correlation between deforestation and improved socioeconomic indicators, and five of the most deforested municipalities in the Amazon in 2020 (Lábrea, Feijó, Jacareacanga, Anapu and Pacajá) are on the list of municipalities with the lowest Social Progress Index.

These and other contested statements from the speech and a study showing that Brazil raised subsidies for fossil fuels by 25% from 2019 to 2020, reaching US$22 billion, earned the country its second mention at this COP of the anti-Fossil of the Day award, granted by the Climate Action Network, which brings together more than one hundred climate entities.

President Jair Bolonaro had won the Fossil of the Week “for the horrible and unacceptable treatment of indigenous peoples” after criticizing activist Txai Suruí, who on the 2nd spoke in Glasgow to dozens of world leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Among other statements by Leite denied in the speech of this Wednesday (10) are those that the planned railroads in Brazil “represent a 75% reduction in emissions from cargo transport”. According to the Climate Observatory check, even if all of them were built one day, they would represent less than 10% of the total cargo movement (and cargo transport emissions) in the country.

The claim that nearly 28 million hectares of degraded pastures were restored by “low carbon agriculture” was also questioned, for including in this area pastures that are too young to have been degraded.

A survey of collection 6 of the MapBiomas project shows that, although 17 million hectares have been recovered since 2000, out of a total of 113 million hectares, in the same period the country gained another 41 million hectares of pasture, 47% of which already showed signs of degradation in 2020.

For the Climate Action Network, the minister’s statements seem to belong to an 18th century colonizer and confirm the illogical and dangerous nature of the Brazilian government’s justifications.

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