BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Monday unveiled a plan to end illegal deforestation in the Amazon, a major campaign pledge that is a critical step in tackling the country’s massive carbon emissions. countries in the region.
This strategy, to be implemented over four years, provides a roadmap to achieve the ambitious goal of stopping illegal deforestation by 2030. Lula’s term ends on January 1, 2027, so the implementation complete work will depend on the will of the one who will come after him to continue. the work.
On Monday, Lula’s administration also pledged to achieve zero net deforestation, that is, replanting as much as is cut, restoring stocks of native vegetation as compensation for the legal removal of the vegetation.
Brazil is the world’s fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, with nearly 3% of global emissions, according to Climate Watch, an online platform run by the World Resources Institute. Nearly half of Brazil’s carbon emissions come from deforestation.
Lula announced that his government would readjust Brazil’s international emissions reduction commitments, called nationally determined contributions, or NDCs, from what was promised in 2015 during the Paris agreement. Brazil has pledged to cut its carbon emissions by 37% by 2025 and 43% by 2030. Lula’s predecessor, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, had reduced his pledges.
As part of the announcement, Lula increased a conservation unit in the Amazon by 1,800 hectares (4,400 acres), which frustrated conservationists. His government has pledged to prioritize the allocation of 57,000,000 hectares of public land without special protection, an area roughly equivalent to the size of France.
In a speech, Environment Minister Marina Silva said the federal government would create more conservation units, pending further studies and agreements with state governments.
These areas have shown increased vulnerability to deforestation, as invaders displace traditional communities and clear land in hopes of gaining government recognition of ownership.
“Brazil will once again become a global benchmark for sustainability, fighting climate change, and meeting the goals of reducing carbon emissions and zero deforestation,” Lula said.
During the event, a tribute was paid to British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous affairs specialist Bruno Pereira, who were killed a year ago during a trip to the Amazon. Several people were arrested.
The new measures mark the fifth phase of a broad initiative called the Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon. Created 20 years ago, during Lula’s first term, the plan was largely responsible for reducing deforestation by 83% between 2004 and 2012. The plan was put on hold during Bolsonaro’s tenure.
One of the main objectives is to stimulate the so-called bio-economy, such as the managed fishing of pirarucu, the largest fish in the Amazon, and the production of acai, as an alternative to farming, which is responsible for most of the deforestation. The action plan also sets out measures to increase monitoring and enforcement and commits to creating new conservation units.
The moves are also a response to recent limitations Congress has imposed on Silva, the environment minister who is particularly influenced by the so-called beef caucus representing agribusiness interests.
Lula vetoed legislation passed by Congress, which sought to authorize the cutting of remaining areas of the Atlantic Forest, a coastal rainforest that has suffered significant destruction.
“The agribusiness group is a well-organized political advocacy group in Congress, with many lawmakers affiliated with it,” Creomar de Souza, political analyst and CEO of consultancy Dharma Politics, told The Associated Press. “And that creates space for what happened last week: the ability of this group within Congress to shape and impose its agenda.”
According to Suely Araújo, Senior Policy Advisor at the Climate Observatory, the action plan is crucial for rebuilding Brazil’s environmental governance. For her, noteworthy aspects of the plan include the integration of data and remote monitoring and accountability systems, the alignment of infrastructure projects with deforestation reduction targets, and rural credit policies linked to climate change. goal of zero deforestation.
However, it remains unclear how compensation for legal deforestation will be carried out, including the instruments and level of responsibility of the private sector.
“It will also be necessary to fight against the serious setbacks that are looming on the agenda of Congress,” said Araújo. “There will be no zero deforestation if he approves destructive measures.
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