The scale of deforestation during the tenure of Jair Bolsonaro, who has been in power since January 1, 2019 with the backing of the agri-food lobby, is spectacular. By the end of the year, almost 40,000 square kilometers of rainforest will have been cut down in Brazil, an area larger than the size of Belgium. The outgoing president was particularly notable for dismantling the institutions responsible for environmental protection and cutting their respective budgets.
Rio de Janeiro
Annual CO2 emissions
In billion tons, 2020
* CO2 emissions from deforestation, forest degradation and fires
** CO2 emissions related to the use of fossil fuels (combustion and industrial processes) and cement production
The Amazon is known as the “lungs of the earth” because of its ability to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2). Much of the Amazon basin now emits more CO2 than it absorbs, according to a study published in July 2021 by the journal Nature. To explain this reversal of “carbon sink” status to emitter, the researchers cited several factors, including the fires caused by farmers illegally clearing the land by burning the trees. Carbon dioxide is an important greenhouse gas, a key factor in global temperature rise on Earth.
The presidential elections in Brazil will take place on Sunday October 2nd. Environmental advocates are now pinning all their hopes on Jair Bolsonaro’s main opponent, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a former left-wing president. The latter had enabled an 80% reduction in deforestation between 2004 and 2012. Several laws and moratoria were enacted under his tenure, demonstrating a link between political will and deforestation.
To go further: Article reserved for our subscribers Environment: the great rampage of the Bolsonaro years in Brazil Sources: Global Forest Watch; Instituto nacional de pesquisas espaciais; Instituto de pesquisa ambiental da amazonia; Gatti, et. al., “Amazonia as a carbon source linked to deforestation and climate change,” Nature; Global Carbon Project
You have 0% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.