3 Billion Reasons to Freak Out About Brazil

5 December 2018

Brazil, the birthplace of UNFCCC and a so far trusted broker of the Paris Agreement negotiations, is about to become one of the world’s climate rogues. All thanks to president-elect Jair Bolsonaro and his set of very peculiar ideas about climate change and the Amazon rainforest.

Bolsonaro is not even in power yet and has already embarrassed Brazilian delegates here in Katowice by backtracking on hosting COP25 less than 10 days before the start of COP24. It’s, for sure, a shame, but let’s stay positive and keep an eye on the silver linings: can you imagine a COP President who thinks global warming is nothing but a Marxist plot to transfer power to China? No, you haven’t read it wrong, and those are Ernesto Araújo, the incoming Brazilian Foreign minister, words.

Even if Bolsonaro doesn’t follow the steps of his BFF Donald Trump and keeps Brazil in the Paris deal, his grand vision for the Amazon is gut-wrenching: drop deforestation control, open up Indigenous lands for agribusiness and mining, scrap protected areas and crack down on activists, just for good measure.

The cost for the climate would be nothing short of catastrophic: deforestation has already increased by 32% between August and November. According to Brazilian scientists, it could climb to mind-boggling 25 thousand square kilometres (nearly one Belgium) a year, with resulting emissions of 3 billion tons of CO2. This would be like adding nearly ten Polands to the atmosphere €“ and a sure blow to any chance of the world staying below 1.5 degrees.

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