Bolsonaro wants to stop deforestation Amazon, ‘but no one believes him’

If US President Biden makes a deal that could stop deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, it sounds like good news for environmental organisations. Yet they are very concerned in recent weeks.

The reason for this is not the US President, who has now proven to take the climate issue seriously, but the man with whom he is negotiating: Brazilian President Bolsonaro, climate deniator pur sang. Strangely enough, he says he wants to drastically restrict the canopy of the rainforest in his country.

But his words are worth little, fear his opponents.

Total Cover

When Biden said during his election campaign in September that he wanted to raise $20 billion to save the rainforest, and that countries that did not cooperate would pay economically, the Brazilian President called it โ€œa cowardly threatโ€.

Now that the time has come, Bolsonaro has changed the gun from shoulder. In the run-up to the global online climate summit yesterday and today, his government proposed to completely stop deforestation in the rainforest by 2030. In exchange for a substantial financial contribution from the US, starting with a $1 billion down payment, its government intends to invest in the development of sustainable earnings models in the Amazon region.

With another president, the offer would probably have been a good start for negotiations with the Americans. โ€œBut the problem with Bolsonaro is that nobody in Brazil believes him,โ€ says correspondent Marc Bessems. More than 200 Brazilian organizations signed a letter asking Biden not to make appointments with their president. They fear that the government will spend money intended to combat deforestation on the farms responsible for it.

Political will

Bolsonaro owes this disbelief to himself. The rainforest that he now says he wants to protect has dangled in practice for years at the bottom of his priority list. The piece of Amazon that disappeared in Brazil last year was the biggest piece in the last 12 years. The Bolsonaro government also cut sharply on the government agency that controls illegal deforestation.

โ€œ Protecting the rainforest is not a matter of money, but above all of political will,โ€ says Bessems. โ€œA fund of Norway and Germany, which was set up specifically for this purpose, has millions of more waiting. But the money was blocked because Bolsonaro wanted to change the rules attached to it.โ€

CCEit on 3 last year made an explanation video about the accelerated deforestation under Bolsonaro:

Then why the sudden turn in the position of the Brazilian government? โ€œThat‘s because the pressure on Bolsonaro is enormous even in the interior,โ€ explains Bessems. โ€œRepresentatives of the agricultural sector, which is the engine of the Brazilian economy, fear that Bolsonaro’s reputation as an environmental villain could cost them money.โ€

This was evident last year, for example, when a free trade agreement with the EU was concluded because, among other things, the Netherlands did not want to do business with the Brazilian President. Also, more and more consumers are calling each other not to buy products from Brazil. โ€œBolsonaro‘s bad image costs money, and in Brazil they are very sensitive to that,โ€ says Bessems.

Act first, then get money

The question remains whether it is a good idea for Biden to make a deal with the climate-sceptic Bolsonaro. โ€œThere is no alternative in Brazil at the moment,โ€ says Bessems. โ€œBut environmental organisations hope that Biden will demand proof of goodwill before giving Bolsonaro money.โ€

The US government has not yet responded to Brazil’s proposal. However, a spokesman for Biden‘s climate team said earlier that he wanted to see โ€œa political signโ€ โ€œthat illegal deforestation in the Amazon is not tolerated.โ€ The spokesman added that there is still a lot of work to be done before it comes to an agreement.

But if Biden wants to make steps in the fight against climate change, he cannot ignore Brazil, emphasised the same spokesman. โ€œThe rainforest is extremely important to extract CO2 from the air and filter it, and it is in danger. We think it’s worth spending time on this.โ€