On August 9, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a powerful report with updates on the global climate emergency.
In more than 3,500 pages, the studies carried out by scientists from more than 60 countries are exhaustive: humanity has already entered a phase of irreversibility of the effects of climate change.
Among the points highlighted by the report, it is irrefutably proven that the main responsibility for this situation lies in the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases.
This scenario is not ignored by the largest historical emitters, such as European countries, which have adopted commitments and incentives for a green economic recovery through the European Green Deal, in the United States, after the pause in isolation under Donald Trump, and in China, which included environmental damage as an indicator of investment risk and ensuring emissions neutrality by 2060.
There is however a country against the global trend: the Brazil of Jair Bolsonaro.
Since assuming the presidency in January 2019, Bolsonaro has adopted several policies that have made Brazil a central player in the international climate change regime from an outcast.
Bolsonaro has reneged on his campaign pledge to shut down the environment ministry, but not before emptying the body of various powers and appointing Ricardo Salles as head of the ministry.
By way of illustration, for Salles, the focus on the pandemic was an opportunity to “pass the herd” and to ensure the flexibility of environmental policies.
Another minister, Chancellor Ernesto Araújo, openly criticized the Paris Agreement, declaring climate policies to be Marxist dogmas, an example of the denial and anti-science discourse propagated by the support base PocketNAlist.
The replacement of the two by peers with a more moderate speech has still not been enough to reverse the negative image that strikes Brazil.
At the center of criticism is the Amazon.
Through the biological process of photosynthesis, forest areas function as central mechanisms of carbon uptake.
As a result, deforestation and fires cause direct emissions, through the gases given off by burning, but also indirect emissions, due to the imbalance of rainfall and humidity levels.
With fewer trees, there is a territorial reduction in the vectors that would absorb carbon and limit greenhouse gases.
In 2019, the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) released data indicating an 88% increase in illegal deforestation in the forest area, compared to 2018.
Bolsonaro’s reaction was to question the veracity of the data and to fire the agency’s director at the time, Ricardo Galvão.
The measure was accompanied by budget cuts, emptying and equipping central institutions for monitoring and implementing public policies in the region, such as the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) and the Foundation. Indian National (Funai).
The dismantling did not come out unscathed: European countries stopped funding the Amazon Fund, the case became an obstacle to the approval of the free trade agreement between Mercosur and the European Union, and several companies have announced the interruption of the importation of products originating in Brazil.
Under pressure, Bolsonaro adopted the strategy of demanding financial support from developed countries to ensure the preservation of the country’s environment. The request was made publicly at the Leaders’ Summit convened by Joe Biden in April of this year.
At the heart of this argument are two main narratives, of particular interest to the president’s base of support.
The first is that the environmental concerns of other countries actually hide protectionism against competitive Brazilian agricultural products.
The second is a distortion of the historic principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”, according to which developed countries should bear the costs of environmental policies, giving developing countries more leeway to manage their own growth.
The two accounts do not hold up against the “state of the art”: to ask for help, Brazil should at least do its homework.
In this sense, Bolsonaro’s attitude at the Summit shocked leaders and experts for two main reasons.
First, the preservation of the environment is protected and guaranteed not only by international agreements to which Brazil is a party, but also by the Federal Constitution. In practice, Bolsonaro asked for money for something that is a legal obligation and for which there should already be a short, medium and long term budget forecast.
Second, the unusual demand was accompanied by countermeasures: the questionable commitment to end illegal deforestation by 2030, without any presentation of the mechanisms to achieve such a goal, and the review of baseline data. of Brazil’s nationally determined contribution. before the Paris Agreement, a measure that in fact increased the country’s emissions target.
Also in 2021, new data from Inpe made the scenario more complex.
A study conducted by researcher Luciana Gatti points out that the degradation of environmental policies in Brazil has caused the Amazon to emit more carbon than it absorbs. According to the survey, the area that needs the most attention is the so-called “Deforestation Arc”, close to the agricultural border.
This information helps to understand why the scenarios in the recently released IPCC report are particularly alarming for the region.
Effects such as delayed cycles of rain, drought, desertification and compromised agricultural crops are expected with a high level of confidence.
In the Amazon, projections indicate that the average temperature will rise by 2 ° C, above the 1.5 ° C that the Paris Agreement sets as the maximum desirable target.
As a result, the tendency is to have at least 150 days per year temperatures above 35 ° C in the region, helping to increase the rate of fire spread.
In the vacuum left by the federal government, other actors sought to occupy the space.
The Governors for the Climate initiative, to which 25 Brazilian states are joining, is a good example.
Through policy implementation commitments and the pursuit of carbon neutrality, governors articulate direct contacts with foreign leaders, in addition to preparing their own independent delegations to participate in COP 26, in Glasgow (Scotland).
The private sector has also taken a stand, placing Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) policies at the center of companies’ strategies, guiding the market by adhering to carbon neutrality mechanisms and the sale of green bonds.
Major companies in the country have also protested against the government’s environmental policies, which are causing economic losses due to boycotts and other countries’ restrictions on Brazilian products.
In two years of government, the green of nature has not sensitized the government. Maybe the green of the silver will.