WORLD / AMERICAS
Brazil’s promises to slash forest losses ‘fraud’: researchers ahead of US summit
Published: Apr 20, 2021 07:03 PM
Brazil's updated national climate change plan would allow the country to step up forest losses to a rate 78 percent above those before President Jair Bolsonao took office and 20 percent above 2020's levels, Brazilian researchers said.

A large amount of smoke from the illegal burning of the Amazon rainforest in Nova Progresso, Para, Brazil on August 15, 2020 Photo: VCG

A large amount of smoke from the illegal burning of the Amazon rainforest in Nova Progresso, Para, Brazil on August 15, 2020 Photo: VCG

As Bolsonaro prepares to take part in US President Joe Biden's international climate summit this week, Brazil's plan shows a lack of ambition to tackle climate change that could undermine global efforts, they said. 

Bolsonaro's administration has overseen large-scale expansion of farming, ranching and mining in the Amazon and other natural areas of Brazil as the country pursues economic development. The president sent a letter to Biden on April 14 recommitting his country to eliminating illegal deforestation by 2030, as it originally promised under the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015.

Brazil and the US have been negotiating since February on a possible deal to boost cooperation on tackling the problem, though no announcement is expected this week. But Brazil's environment minister, Ricardo Salles, has said the country would need $10 billion annually in foreign aid to reach economy-wide net-zero emissions by mid-century, a climate change goal. 

About $1 billion of that would allow Brazil to eliminate illegal deforestation ahead of the 2030 target, he said. 

In its previous 2015 climate plan, Brazil had said efforts to slash emissions would "not be contingent upon international support." The revised national climate change plan takes advantage of methodological changes to boost Brazil's base emissions in 2005, from which it is measuring cuts, said Minas Gerais Federal University researchers. That would effectively allow the country to continue increasing its emissions through 2030 while meeting promised percentage decreases, researchers said.

Márcio Astrini, executive secretary of Brazil's Climate Observatory, said Bolsonaro's promises to eliminate illegal deforestation by 2030 amounted to "an international fraud."

The study by Minas Gerais Federal University and other researchers showed Brazil could deforest 13,400 square kilometers of land annually each year until 2025 while staying within its updated Paris Agreement commitment.
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