The news came at the wrong time. Just before John Kerry, the US special envoy for the climate, traveled to Brazil, local media reported worrying figures. As of February 17 alone, 209 square kilometers of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest had been cleared. That would be the highest value for this month since data collection began, comments the magazine “Oeste”. The data comes from the Institute for Space Research (Inpe), which monitors deforestation via satellite.
Kerry assured that he trusts the new people in the government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (77). In the talks, he found a real will to change the situation.
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Lula’s Campaign Pledge: Zero Deforestation Strategy
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (77) has been back in office since the beginning of the year. The left-wing politician’s government has already shocked environmental organizations by sinking a warship laden with toxic waste in the ocean – despite violent protests. One of Lula’s central campaign promises is the implementation of a zero-deforestation strategy in the Amazon rainforest, which is so important for the global climate. Under his predecessor and right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro, who massively dismantled indigenous rights and environmental regulations, the deforestation figures initially rose for three years, but then fell again.
The German federal government provided the new Lula government with remarkable emergency aid: “All in all, the BMZ is supporting the new Brazilian government in the first 100 days of its term of office with 200 million euros,” said German Development Minister Svenja Schulze in January.
The fresh deforestation figures are also surprising because there had been a noticeable decline of 61 percent in January. A success that the government claimed for itself.
Kerry calls for an international effort
Environment Minister Marina Silva, who is considered incorruptible and has already resigned in his second term of office (2007-2010) because of differences about the direction of Lula’s environmental policy, expressed shock at the new figures and announced countermeasures: “Even in the rainy season, the forest cut down. This is a kind of revenge for the measures that have already been taken on the ground. And we will keep working, that is our goal.”
Silva accused the loggers and prospectors in the region of “criminal actions”. She also pointed out that the new government works transparently: everyone has access to the data in real time. The new February numbers are now putting everyone involved under pressure not only to stop at announcements and the collection of funding, especially from the West, but also to present concrete results.
Meanwhile, during his visit to Brazil, Kerry once again backed the new government and called for an international effort. Not only the Ukraine war, but also the fight against the climate crisis requires joint commitment. China, the largest importer of soya from Brazil, is also welcome among the Amazon protectors.