Is the Brazilian government really trying to protect the Amazon?

Due to national and international pressure, Michael Temer and the Congress vetoed the MPs 756 and 758. Norway warned Brazil of stopping the financial aid if the deforestation rate continues to increase in the Amazon, while China invests $20 billion in the grain railway transport system that threatens many protected areas across Brazil.

-Written by Mauricio Sagastuy, 17/09/2017

2nd article about Brazil’s situation

Great green macaw. Photograph taken from: Ethicalgreenworld, 24/10/2011 https://ethicalgreenworld.wordpress.com  

The government of Brazil lead by Michel Temer created the MPs (provisional measures) 756 and 758 as part of a plan to reduce the area and protection status of large forested areas in the Brazilian Amazon. After the approval of the MPs, the government of Michel Temer faced pressure from various countries, NGOs, environmental activists, and even celebrities like Gisele Bündchen. Due to this pressure, on 31 August 2017, Temer and the Congress of Brazil decided to veto completely the MP 756 and partially cancel the MP 758, and thus halting the plans to slash environmental protections for about 600 000 hectares.

On the other side, Norway warned Michel Temer, that if deforestation rates continue to increase in the Amazon, they will reduce or stop donating money to the Amazon Fund. The Amazon Fund finances various projects in the Amazon with the aim of preventing, monitoring and combating deforestation, as well as promoting a sustainable land use. Norway is the biggest donor of the mentioned fund and has donated more than $1 billion since 2008. The deforestation rate in the Amazon was being reduced from 2008 to 2014, which was a “big achievement” for Brazil. But in 2015 and 2016 there was a worrying upward trend of deforestation in the Amazon, which lead to a reduced contribution from Norway. The most worrying fact is that a light increase in deforestation could reduce Norway’s donation to zero.

The reason for Norway’s threat to reduce the donation to the Amazon Fund comes from the mixed messages that the government of Michel Temer is sending regarding the environmental protection of the Amazon. First, he created the MPs 756 and 758 to deforest large areas of rainforest and favor the “agribusiness lobby”, then after the pressure he faced from diverse environmental groups and organizations Temer decided to veto his own provisional measures. Besides this, a day before the president vetoed the provisional measures, the Environmental Minister of Brazil Jose Sarney Filho announced, along with the governor of Para, Flexa Ribeiro (who is an important actor of the agribusiness lobby), that they would send a bill to the Congress to cut the environmental protection of almost the same area as the vetoed MP 756 (300 000 hectares in the Jamaxin National Forest). Thus, the different announcements made by different parts of the Brazilian government create confusion on whether they will actually protect the 600 000 hectares of the Jamaxin National Park or if it is just a maneuver to dismember the mentioned area through different measures. Until now no bill has been sent and the veto of the MPs is still valid.

To make matters worse, China announced the 26 of June from 2017 that they will provide $20 billion for Brazil’s infrastructure development, focusing on railway development to move soy and other grains from the interior of Brazil to the coast. This railway transport system is called the “Ferrogrão” (which in Portuguese means grain-railway). There is also a link between the “Ferrogrão” and the discussed provisional measures: this railway is planned to be constructed through the Jamaxin National Park, where the MPs 756 and 758 were trying to remove the environmental protection status. Large scale infrastructural projects have caused environmental degradation and deforestation in the Amazon, and the “Ferrogrão” will not be a different case. As mentioned in the earlier article (http://regnskog.jordensvanner.se/brazilian-forests-and-national-parks-could-lose-an-area-of-80-000-km2-equivalent-to-the-size-of-austria/), China is interested in investing in the Brazilian agribusiness and the grain railway transport system, because they are one of the biggest buyers of soy and other grains from Brazil. These grains are mainly used for feeding the livestock, which is becoming more and more important for China, due to their increase of meat and dairy consumption per capita.

 

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References:

Amazon Watch (2017): Amazon Forest Endangered Despite Brazilian President’s Vetoes of Environmental Protection Reductions. Available online at http://amazonwatch.org/news/2017/0621-amazon-forest-endangered-despite-brazilian-presidents-vetoes, checked on 9/17/2017.

Carrington, Damian (2017): Norway issues $1bn threat to Brazil over rising Amazon destruction. In The Guardian. Available online at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/22/norway-issues-1bn-threat-brazil-rising-amazon-destruction, checked on 9/17/2017.

Gonzales, Jenny (2017): Norway vexed as Brazil sends mixed message on Amazon forest protection. Available online at https://news.mongabay.com/2017/06/norway-vexed-as-brazil-sends-mixed-message-on-amazon-forest-protection/, checked on 9/17/2017.

Umagotanooceano (2017): Mining also haunts Jamanxim. Available online at http://umagotanooceano.org/?bibliografia=mining-jamanxim, checked on 9/17/2017.

 

Inläggsförfattare: Praktikant Latinamerika

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