In his last days in office, the US ambassador to Brazil, Todd Chapman, defended this Thursday (22) that the government of Brazil present in the coming months —before the global climate meeting — a detailed plan on how the country intends to meet the environmental commitments made recently by President Jair Bolsonaro (non-party).
“This is the moment [do Brasil] of not being the villain and being the hero [da agenda ambiental]. This is the moment,” he declared.
At the climate summit led by US President Joe Biden, Bolsonaro pledged to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and end illegal deforestation by 2030.
“These commitments are important, now we have to see how to do it. I think this is the new opportunity for the government to show the plan of how it will achieve this. The government [brasileiro] show you exactly how you’re going to do it. Other countries will support and help,” said Chapman, speaking to journalists at the embassy’s official residence, in Brasília.
In Brazil since April 2020, Chapman announced his retirement on June 10, making room for Biden to define the new head of the mission in Brasília. He leaves the country for the weekend.
Chapman also stated that the best thing would be for Brazil to launch this environmental plan before the COP-26 (United Nations Conference on Climate Change), scheduled to take place in November in Glasgow, Scotland.
“Present before! Arrive [na COP-26] with that announced, for all to applaud. This is the way. And also negotiate article 6 [do Acordo de Paris], which will allow the international carbon market. Who will be the biggest beneficiary of this in the world? The one with the most carbon credits to sell: Brazil. So this is in the national interest. That’s why I think Brazil has a great opportunity in the area of the environment.”
“At COP-26 I would like the big star of the film to be Brazil, doing the right thing to really solve this problem of illegal deforestation. This would be my advice to the government, not just the federal government. But state governments as well.”, he added.
Since the beginning of the Bolsonaro government, Brazil has faced strong international pressure in the area of the environment.
The country has been criticized for Bolsonaro’s anti-preservation rhetoric and strong deregulation policy in the area. The government is also the target of complaints from the international community for attacks on indigenous leaders and, especially, for the increase in deforestation in the Amazon.
Until January 2021, the charges came mainly from Europe, since former US President Donald Trump had a deregulation policy similar to that of Bolsonaro.
The situation changed with Biden’s coming to power. The American government joined the Europeans in the efforts to put pressure on Brazil.
On Thursday, Chapman acknowledged that the environment was the theme in which there was the greatest change in the US position in the transition from Trump to Biden governments.
“It was pretty clear to me, making this transition [nos EUA], that it was necessary to increase the importance of the environment in my conversations with the government [do Brasil]”, said the American diplomat.
He also says that the most sensitive issue remains illegal deforestation in the Amazon and that Brazil needs to seek “quick solutions” to the problem.
Without naming names, the diplomat also sent a message against arguments frequently used by authorities in the Bolsonaro government, who tend to counter criticism from abroad by comparing Brazil’s preservation rates with those of developed countries and the Brazilian energy matrix — one of the cleanest in the world .
“You can be right in all your arguments, winning battle after battle, and still losing the war. ‘Oh but we’ve already preserved more of the Amazon than you did on the US East Coast.’ That’s right, but not this one it’s an argument [agora]. ‘Ah, but we have the largest number of hydroelectric plants in the world’. That’s right, but that’s not a topic right now. You can proudly announce all of this, if you’re not deforesting the Amazon. Once this is resolved, it will open doors for you,” he says.
Despite Bolsonaro having lowered the tone in his anti-environmental rhetoric and the commitments made at the climate summit, the president’s promises are met with skepticism due to the advance of deforestation rates.
In June, deforestation alerts in the Amazon returned to record highs, for the fourth consecutive month, according to data from Inpe (National Institute for Space Research).
Forest clearing in the month reached 1,061.88 km², which represents an increase of 2.7% over the same period in 2020, and the highest value recorded in the recent history of the Deter program, starting in 2016. second month in a row with deforestation values above one thousand square kilometers.
Since March, the program’s monthly alerts have been breaking records, always compared to the same month in previous years, since 2016. Considering only this short period of months, 3,401 km² of Amazon were cut down. Deforestation throughout 2012, for example, was 4,571 km².
The months of July, August and September, part of the dry period, are usually critical for the Amazon as they concentrate intense deforestation and burning activities.