Brazilian President Lula unveils plan to end deforestation by 2030

By | June 6, 2023

Lulas’ proposal would advance a commitment to deforestation made at the 2021 climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland.

The administration of Brazilian President Luiz Incio Lula da Silva has announced its plan to eliminate deforestation by 2030 as part of an international effort to protect the environment.

Lula and her environment minister Marina Silva unveiled the Action Plan to prevent and control deforestation in the Amazon on Monday, touting it as the latest step in their aggressive platform to fight climate change.

Brazil has resumed its leading role in tackling climate change, after four years in which the environment was treated as an obstacle to immediate profit by a privileged minority, Lula said in a Twitter post, alluding to the policies of his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.

But rich countries also have to do their part. It was they who devastated the forests the most over the centuries.

A plan to tackle deforestation

Fifteen government ministries have collaborated on the plan, which includes advanced techniques for documenting and tracking illegal logging.

The plan calls for increased use of satellite imagery to identify illegal logging, ranching and mining operations. Government databases containing financial information, for example, will also be used to trace the flow of money from unauthorized operations in the Amazon rainforest.

Under the terms of the plan, a system will also be developed to certify the origins of wood and agricultural products that might otherwise come from vulnerable or exploited ecosystems.

In addition to its crime-fighting efforts, the plan proposes standardizing land titles and creating incentives for sustainable agriculture and other green businesses.

The country’s loggers need to be told that if they want to cut down trees, plant them, Lula said of the proposed measures.

He also warned that there would be no excuse for clearing old growth forests. In the land of the Brazilian people, we will be very strict in respecting the law.

An uphill battle

Lulas’ policies mark a departure from those of Bolsonaro, whose tenure, from 2019 to 2022, coincided with record deforestation in Brazil.

Bolsonaro had advocated for more development in the Amazon region, framing the construction as a potential boon to the Brazilian economy and turning a blind eye to, according to critics, the illegal operations.

But Bolsonaro’s opponents have denounced what they saw as an attack on the country’s environmental protections, which has translated into violence against the indigenous people who call the Amazon home.

In October, right-wing Bolsonaro was narrowly defeated in a runoff against left-wing Lula, who campaigned on a platform for restoring the Amazon. Parts of the forest that were once major carbon-capture sinks are now releasing more carbon than they capture due to deforestation and fires.

However, in November, Lula appeared at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27, in an effort to position Brazil as a leader in the fight against climate change.

There is no climate security for the world without a protected Amazon, he told the conference.

However, Lula faced an uphill battle. Deforestation fell 61% in January, his first month in office, only to hit a record high in February.

And the opposition-led Brazilian Congress recently inflicted a setback on Lula, voting last week to downsize ministries devoted to environmental protection and indigenous peoples.

A solemn anniversary

Monday’s deforestation announcement comes a year after British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous expert Bruno Pereira were murdered while reporting on the Amazon.

In announcing the plan on Monday, Lula paid tribute to the two men, who had worked to bring attention to logging and illegal operations on indigenous land.

A year ago, the brutal murder that made them victims shocked the world, which has come to see the Amazon as a land without law and on the verge of destruction, Lula wrote on Twitter. Today the world has returned to looking to Brazil with hope.

The announcement sets the stage for Brazil to deliver on a 2021 deal, forged during the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, to halt deforestation by 2030.

An estimated 145 countries have signed up to the Glasgow Declaration, which would cover around 85% of the world’s forests and woodlands. Among them, 12 governments have pledged $12 billion to protect and restore forest ecosystems, with funds set aside for indigenous peoples.

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