The World Daily
Delays in Biden-Bolsonaro Amazon Protection Deals

Smoke rises from an illegally lit fire in Amazon rainforest reserve, south of Novo Progresso in Para state, Brazil, on August 15, 2020. Photo:CNN


By Patryk Krych | The World Daily | APRIL 18th 2021


Delays have struck the progression of plans to strike a deal between the USA and Brazil that would assure better protections for the Amazon rainforest – a crucial forest that is often referred to as the ‘Lungs of the Earth.’

Since Joe Biden’s success in the 2020 presidential elections, he’s been putting focus into fulfilling his campaign promises. Much of these are environmentally-oriented, with promises to have the US re-join the Paris Climate Accords fulfilled successfully. What awaits Biden now is his promise to sort out a deal with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro – a deal that’s begun to stall.

“As we lead up to the President’s Leaders Summit on Climate, we want to see a very clear commitment to ending illegal deforestation,” said a US State Department official to Climate Home News. “Tangible steps to increase effective enforcement of illegal deforestation.”

The organisation of a deal had been stalled when Brazil made a demand from the US for an upfront payment of billions of dollars. Biden is now being met with a decision to make – whether to agree to the terms, or try and negotiate them.

US Democrat Senators, along with several environmental organisations as well as Brazilian indigenous groups have been very local about their disagreement towards these terms, urging Biden not to give the Brazilian far-right government any money.

A coordinator of Brazil’s Articulation of Indigenous Peoples (APIB), Sonia Guajajara, expressed to Al Jazeera that “The current Brazilian government is simply not to be trusted,” given that it’s under this government that deforestation in the Amazon has only grown more rapid.

US officials have, amidst trying to strike an Amazon protection deal, begun engaging more with indigenous leaders. Many of these leaders have expressed their own concerns that their interests in regards to the rainforest are often ignored or forgotten by the current government.

“We shared a lot of concern with climate change and the current situation around the conservation of the forest,” said the executive co-ordinator of Brazil’s Indigenous People Articulation, Dinamam Tuxá, to Climate Home News. “They said it was a moment to listen to indigenous people because they understand the importance of indigenous peoples in protecting the forest and addressing climate change.”

The indigenous leaders have asked that US companies cease purchasing products that were made via the destruction of the Amazon rainforest – they hope to eventually regain some autonomy over their own lands, but as it stands, their homes are under the threat of destruction. Meanwhile the environmental backlash of deforestation to a forest as important as the Amazon is exacting a gradual yet heavy toll on the rest of the world.


The US State Department official added that: “We continue to recognize that conservation and sustainable economic growth can go hand in hand. It is a complex challenge that also will require new and innovative solutions – solutions that include local community engagement, including indigenous and traditional communities, as well as new technologies and approaches to providing incentives.”

Amazon deforestation had its peak back in 2004, and though it hasn’t reached this peak again since then, it’s still been making a sharp climb since Bolsonaro took office. The March of 2021 has been on of the worst recent months in history for the Amazon, in fact. It’s been reported that a total of about 367.61 square kilometres (141.94 square miles) had been destroyed in March, marking a 12.4% increase in destruction when compared to the previous year. It’s becoming clear that if a deal isn’t struck soon, the crisis will only continue to grow.

In an interview with the Estado de S Paulo newspaper, Bolsonaro’s Environment Minister Ricardo Salles had stated that with as much as a $1bn annual donation of funds from the US, alongside other countries, the deforestation of the Amazon could be reduced by only 40%. A statement that has been laughed at by environmentalists, who’d pointed out that the country’s Amazon Fund has been holding on to a donation of $540,000 (BR$3bn) from Germany and Norway meant to quell deforestation efforts since 2019.

Marcio Astrini, the executive secretary of the Brazilian Climate Observatory, told Al Jazeera that “If reducing deforestation was really their priority they would use the money in the Amazon fund.”


By Patryk Krych | © The World Daily 2021