Brazil will regain its ‘climate leadership’: ex-minister

Brazil will regain its ‘climate leadership’: ex-minister


Brazil will protect the Amazon “under its own steam” without waiting for international funding, the former environment minister of the new President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said at the UN climate talks on Saturday.

Marina Silva, credited with curbing deforestation in the 2000s, outlined key environmental priorities for the new president, who will attend climate talks in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh next week.

Silva is to take over her role in Lula’s new government.

Lula has vowed that fighting deforestation in the Amazon would be “a strategic priority” for his government to counter the legacy of Jair Bolsonaro, who led a wave of rainforest destruction.

Silva said that Lula’s visit to Egypt before he takes office on January 1 shows that “Brazil is regaining ecological leadership in the multilateral arena.”

With a plan to combat the destruction of the Amazon and pursue a reforestation goal of 12 million hectares (30 million acres), Brazil “will lead by example,” she said.

Silva added that the country will act to conserve forests – a crucial buffer against global warming – without depending on international aid.

However, she welcomed announcements by Norway and Germany that they would resume financial support. Both countries stopped helping in 2019 shortly after Bolsonaro took power.

Norway is the largest contributor to this fund, which currently holds $641 million, according to its environment ministry.

Since Bolsonaro – a staunch agribusiness ally – took office in January 2019, average annual deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has increased by 75 percent compared to the previous decade.

Silva said there was a need to create a national super-body to coordinate climate action between different ministries.

“It would be something innovative and powerful,” she said.

Lula, 77, secured a narrow victory over far-right incumbent Bolsonaro in a runoff election on October 30.

The veteran left is sworn in for a third term on Jan. 1 and faces a far grimmer prospect than the commodity-driven boom he presided over in the 2000s.

Silva traveled to Egypt to prepare the ground for Lula’s expected visit.

She called for a review of the carbon credit market amid fears oil and gas companies are using them to avoid reducing their own emissions.

“I don’t think fossil fuel generation should continue relying on these loans,” she said.

While she said that Brazil would continue to need its oil resources “as a transition to other sources of energy production,” she added that her personal opinion is that even state oil company Petrobras should go beyond oil and contribute to Brazil’s energy transition.

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