It is commendable that President Jair Bolsonaro has stressed in his remarks at the World Economic Forum the need for harmony between economic development and environmental protection. Mr. Bolsonaro has also stated his commitment to working with the rest of the world towards cutting CO2 emissions – it is the first time the Brazilian President mentions climate change in a positive light, without conditionals or caveats.
Alas, such discourse is hard to reconcile with the reality of the first 21 days of the Bolsonaro administration. The Brazilian federal government has taken concrete steps to submit the environmental agenda to agribusiness and to dismantle climate governance. The results can be seen on the ground: deforestation is on the rise in the Amazon and a wave of invasions of indigenous lands is underway.
The President must act swiftly to correct the course if he means what he said in Davos. Otherwise, the international community and vulnerable Brazilians will be left with empty words, and Brazilian businesses will have to face vanishing markets and runaway investors.
The Climate Observatory (Observatório do Clima) is a network of 45 Brazilian civil society organizations monitoring federal climate policy. It publishes yearly estimates of Brazil’s greenhouse gases emissions.