Jair Bolsonaro has said he would keep Brazil in the Paris Agreement if elected president.
The frontrunner ahead of Sunday’s election, Bolsonaro has expressed his admiration for US president Donald Trump’s decision to leave the UN climate change pact, sparking international concern.
But on Thursday, he said he would respect the deal, subject to assurances it did not affect Brazilian control over the Andes mountains, Amazon rainforest and Atlantic Ocean.
“Let’s put on paper that the Triple A isn’t in play and neither is the independence of any indigenous land, and I’ll uphold the Paris Agreement,” he said at a news conference in Rio de Janeiro, as reported by Reuters.
Asked if he would leave the deal without these commitments, Bloomberg reported Bolsonaro said: “Brazil stays in the Paris Agreement.”
Fears remain over the impact of his proposed policies on the world’s largest rainforest and indigenous people living there. Courting the agricultural and mining lobbies, he has set out plans to scrap the environment ministry, de-fund enforcement agencies and run a paved highway through the Amazon.
Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro is the environmental story of 2018.
No-one is better positioned than CHN’s Fabiano Maisonnave to cover the impact of his near-certain presidency on the world’s most important forest. We are the only international news site with a correspondent living in the heart of the Amazon. You can read some of the great reporting Fabiano has already done for us here.
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These acts could trigger a surge in deforestation to rates not seen since the early 2000s, scientists warn. Analysis published by Mongabay predicts that within a decade, an area of forest the size of Oregon or the UK will be razed every year – 18% of it in currently protected areas. The carbon dioxide released annually would be equivalent to 3% of global emissions today.
“The loss of biodiversity and climate regulation that could result from a dramatic change in policies would be a tipping point for both biodiversity and climate change, with global consequences,” wrote four Brazilian and international experts.
Eight former Brazilian environment ministers this week criticised Bolsonaro’s plans in an article for Folha de S Paulo newspaper entitled: “We cannot disembark from the world.” 19 civil society groups have condemned Bolsonaro’s proposals in an open letter.
International climate watchers have also expressed concern.
Nicole Polsterer, a campaigner with European NGO Fern, urged the EU to use its trade clout to support forest protection, in a comment article for Climate Home News.
As a bloc, the EU is the biggest outside investor in Brazil and its second largest trading partner. The bloc is currently negotiating a trade deal with Mercosur, an alliance of Brazil and four neighbouring countries.