Government Jair Bolsonaro is evaluating the announcement of the increase in the amount allocated to the Department of the Environment at the Climate Leaders’ Summit, hosted by United States President Joe Biden, from April 22 to 23.
In a letter sent to Biden on Wednesday (14), Bolsonaro pledged to end illegal deforestation in Brazil by 2030, but the US government is pushing for concrete measures to show the way to achieve that goal and is calling to partial results later this year.
According to those involved in the negotiations, the new allocation of resources would be made available to inspection bodies, such as Ibama and ICMBio (Instituto Chico Mendes), which were dumped under the Bolsonaro administration and reported a lack of money, including paying basic bills, such as travel for inspectors to work in the field.
The plan to increase the contribution is still under discussion and depends on the approval of the Ministry of the Economy, which is resistant to assuming new spending amid the budget crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The need to strengthen environmental agencies was demanded in conversations between Brazilian and American authorities on the eve of the summit. The main argument of the Biden government is that Brazil must strengthen the agencies that act directly in the fight against deforestation in the Amazon, mainly with the forecast of the withdrawal of the military from these operations, from May.
The disembarkation of the military was officially announced by the government, but Bolsonaro’s advisers began to assess a new extension of the GLO (Guarantee of Public Order), which would guarantee their permanence in actions, due to the difficulties encountered in restructuring of civil protection agencies.
Bolsonaro’s aides say the increased portfolio budget – which has suffered cuts in recent years – could be a signal to the United States that Brazil is committed to the environmental agenda, despite Planalto’s policy be seen as negligent by pro-conservation movements. .
Considering only discretionary spending, which includes investments, the Ministry of the Environment plans to spend R $ 801 million this year, according to the budget awaiting presidential assent. The amount, however, has been increased by over 200 million reais to improve the quality of the urban environment, a banner of Minister Ricardo Salles. Without any supplement, the amount available for 2021 would be lower than the amount committed for discretionary spending last year of R $ 614 million.
Agencies like Ibama and ICMBio have also faced budget cuts in discretionary spending. Ibama’s reduction was 9% and ICMBio’s was 12% from last year.
Bolsonaro was instructed by the more moderate sectors of his government to send the letter to Biden days before the summit, in an attempt to “turn the tide” with more assertive commitments and reverse the negative perception of his participation. in the meeting. Aligned with the White House, international leaders are pushing for a clear commitment by Brazil to protect the environment amid the country’s high number of fires and deforestation.
According to data released by Inpe (National Institute for Space Research), deforestation in the Amazon broke new records in March and was the highest in the past six years. Forest destruction last month increased 12.6% compared to the same period in 2020, when deforestation hit its highest level in 12 years.
On the Brazilian side, funding for the preservation of the Amazon has become one of the main points of tension in negotiations with the United States for the summit. Since the end of last month, the White House and the State Department have called for an ambitious and real plan on climate change from the Brazilian government, but have conditioned any kind of financial assistance on concrete results.
Salles, for his part, insists that Brazil would only commit to numbers if it received money in advance from foreign countries, which Americans dislike. The minister even asked for $ 1 billion by 2021 in a meeting with US officials and, as Folha revealed, showed the image of a dog wagging its tail in front of an oven with roast chickens. to illustrate what he called “the expectation of payment”. Salles believes that Brazil must also receive resources to offset conservations already made, such as the 7.8 gigatons of carbon reduction from 2006 to 2017.
In the letter to Biden, Bolsonaro says that reaching the goal of reducing illegal deforestation by 2030 “will require substantial resources and comprehensive public policies,” but the Brazilian president’s aides say they know that this help will come “as we make the commitments that we have made.”
According to diplomats, funding could be done in different ways. Not only with bilateral contributions, but also with private investments or with funds from multilateral organizations, such as the World Bank and the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank).
During the summit, which will take place on a virtual basis and will be broadcast live on the US State Department’s website, each leader will have three minutes to make their presentation. Brazil is expected to speak at the opening session, alongside countries that are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, such as the United States and China, and considered to have important environmental credentials. Bolsonaro must repeat the central points of the letter he sent to Biden, which focused on the pledge to stop illegal deforestation by 2030.
During the meeting, no bilateral agreement between the United States and Brazil is expected to be signed. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said she does not see the summit as a place for the signing of such treaties because the format, with a little time for each leader, is a way for them. countries to present their plans and objectives. Among the signals from Brazil, there is also the possibility of anticipating the objective of climate neutrality by 2050, ten years earlier than expected.
For this, however, Bolsonaro stressed in the letter to the US president that “significant annual resources that will contribute in this direction will be required.” Planalto advisers claim that the economic situation in Brazil is very different from that of the United States or the European Union – which has made more ambitious commitments until 2050 – and, therefore, it would be “irresponsible” bring forward the deadline without external assistance to make the energy transition and control the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.