Lula faced with the immense challenge of keeping the Amazon

Lula, faced with the immense challenge of keeping the Amazon “alive”.

President-elect of Brazil Luis Inácio Lula da Silva during a press conference in Sao Paulo on October 29, 2022 afp_tickers This content was published on November 3, 2022 – 4:24 PM November 3, 2022 – 4:24 PM (AFP)

Brazil’s President-elect, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, faces an immense challenge to meet international expectations to stop the destruction of the Amazon, key to the fight against climate change.

“The Amazon is badly damaged. We need a plan,” says Luciana Gatti of Brazil’s national space agency.

Lula, who will be assuming his third presidency after reigning from 2003 to 2010, gave assurances that he would respond to the emergency.

The planet “needs a vibrant Amazon,” he said on the night of his election victory over far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

Specifically, Lula has pledged to “fight for zero deforestation” and resume “surveillance and surveillance” of the world’s largest tropical forest.

Under Bolsonaro, a global warming skeptic, deforestation in the Amazon rose by more than 70%, according to official statistics.

In real terms, deforestation figures were higher early in Lula’s first term, but after his two terms in office, they fell by 70%, according to the same sources.

Well before he takes office on January 1, the left-wing leader is due to attend the COP27 climate change meeting in Egypt, which opens on Sunday, at the invitation of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

The country is “ready to reclaim its place in the fight against the climate crisis,” he said.

– Resumption of Funds –

International leaders included environmental references in their congratulations to Lula after his election victory.

Norway has announced that it will resume aid to protect the Amazon, and Germany has also announced its intention. This aid has been suspended since 2019 due to Bolsonaro’s policies.

So where to start?

“Lula must act decisively from the start to effectively redefine federal government action in the Amazon,” said Suely Araujo, a specialist at the Brazilian Climate Observatory and former president of the Brazilian Institute for the Environment (IBAMA). ), the main state environmental agency.

According to Shenker, the IBAMA institute and the state-owned National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) “need financial resources and political will” after being marginalized by Bolsonaro.

The current Brazilian president viewed the agencies as a hindrance to economic progress, delaying permits for logging, agribusiness and mining in the Amazon.

Lula “can also put an end to the dangerous proposals” being debated in Congress, Shenker said, referring to legislation that could increase mining on tribal lands.

For Araujo, Lula must “restart climate policy immediately, completely weakened in the Bolsonaro government”.

Brazil, he stressed, had become a “pariah” in the climate negotiations and needed to adapt its policies to the Paris Agreement.

– “lawless” –

Stretching across nine countries, the Amazon is the largest of the world’s few remaining pristine rainforests.

It has more species and indigenous peoples than any other place on earth and is home to more than 100 uncontacted tribes.

Fires and massive deforestation are not new problems in this area.

They existed when Lula was in power, although by the end of his second presidency in 2010 he managed to bring deforestation to a record low.

Growing concerns about the climate crisis coincided with the massive Amazon fires of 2019, when Bolsonaro’s inaction sparked protests around the world.

“The Bolsonaro government is standing for 50,000 km2 of deforestation,” an area the size of Slovakia, said Luciana Gatti, who attributed the damage to international trade in beef, soybeans and timber.

Gatti proposes declaring a “state of emergency” in the region and launching a reforestation program in the hardest-hit areas, which Brazilian scientists will propose at COP27.

“Saving this part should be our priority.”

Just getting the Amazon back to the state it was in before Bolsonaro will be a struggle, Gatti said. “Today the Amazon is a lawless place.”