The newly elected president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has vowed to reverse the environmentally damaging policies of his predecessor. Lula pledged he’s prepared to lead the world in combating climate change, starting with putting a stop to the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest, addressing inequality, and implementing renewable energy.
The science and other stuff to know
Brazil is home to 60 percent of the Amazon, which is the world’s largest rainforest. However, during the reign of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, the annual rate of forest loss in the Amazon increased by 75 percent, reaching a 15-year high in the first half of 2022. As a result, scientists are warning that the ecosystem is on the verge of collapsing.
Luckily, Brazil’s new president has vowed to crack down on illegal deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, inspiring hope for the ecosystem. In a statement during the COP27 climate summit, Lula said:
“There is no climate security for the world without a protected Amazon. We will do whatever it takes to have zero deforestation and degradation of our biomes by 2030. For this reason, that efforts to fight climate change will have the highest priority in my next government. We will prioritize the fight against deforestation of all of our biomes and reverse damages done in recent years.”
Confirming his plan to strengthen oversight in the Amazon, Lula proposed a new ministry for Indigenous people who will act as advocates for Amazon conservation.
“Those that live in the Amazon region should be the protagonists of its conservation,” Lula said. “Let’s prove once again that it is possible to create wealth without promoting climate change.”
Instead of deforestation, Lula touted the massive job and economic potential of clean technologies like renewable energy, biofuels, and green hydrogen, as well as sustainable farming practices that can help rather than harm forests and biodiversity.
Amazon rainforest’s role as a climate regulator is critical as the planet gets hotter and drier. This rainforest acts as a massive offset for global carbon emissions. According to Amazon Conservation, it stores more than 150 billion metric tons of carbon and absorbs 2 billion tons of CO2 each year.
So, by halting deforestation in the Amazon, Lula will play a huge role in protecting the planet from climate change. However, he pointed out that preserving the Amazon forest is a team effort. He also encouraged the international community to step up and provide more financial support to help developing countries take tougher climate actions.
Lula recommends that the United Nations host the COP30 climate summit in the Amazon. In his speech, he stressed it’s time “people who defend the Amazon and defend the climate get to know the region close up.”