Brazil renews commitment

Source: AFP Published: 2020/8/6 16:08:40

Environment minister promises results on deforestation

A handout picture released by the Mato Grosso State Fire Department on Tuesday showing a tapir fleeing a forest fire in the Paranatinga region, Mato Grosso state, Brazil, on Saturday. The Brazilian Pantanal suffered a record 1,684 fires in July, triple the number from July 2019, according to satellite imagery. Photo: AFP

Fending off accusations of using his post to dismantle protections of the Amazon rainforest, Brazil's environment minister promised Wednesday in an interview to deliver results on slowing deforestation by the end of 2020. 

Ricardo Salles is tasked with running environmental policy under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who faces accusations from environmentalists of encouraging deforestation with calls to open the world's biggest rainforest to mining and agriculture.

But Salles, a 45-year-old lawyer, said the government was taking concerted action to slow deforestation.

"The first step, which can be achieved in the second half of this year, is to stop the increase in deforestation," he told AFP.

"Starting next year, we're going to reduce deforestation and return to decreasing numbers. Brazil's commitment is to reduce deforestation to zero by 2030," under the Paris climate agreement, he added.

"But you don't reach that goal overnight. It takes a consistent, coherent plan."

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon set a new record for the first six months of 2020, with 3,069 square kilometers cleared, according to satellite data - an area bigger than Luxembourg, and an increase of 25 percent over 2019.

That has revived international pressure on Brazil to do more to protect the forest, a vital resource in the fight to curb climate change.

Exacerbating the situation, the Pantanal, the world's largest wetlands - a region situated just south of the Amazon and stretching from Brazil into Paraguay and Bolivia - had a record 1,684 fires in July, triple the number in July 2019.

Salles faced intense criticism in April when a video recording was made public of a Bolsonaro cabinet meeting at which he said the coronavirus pandemic was an opportunity to roll back regulations "now that the media's only talking about COVID[-19]."

He denied that he meant weakening environmental regulations, saying that he simply opposed red tape in general.

The Bolsonaro administration has been at pains recently to show a more aggressive stance on deforestation, particularly after international investment funds controlling $4 trillion in capital threatened to pull out of the country over the issue. 



blog comments powered by Disqus