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Brazil breaks vow to tackle deforestation in the Amazon

Brazil breaks vow to tackle deforestation in the Amazon

Brazil breaks vow to tackle deforestation in the Amazon

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has approved a cut to the environment

ministry budget a day after he vowed to boost spending to tackle

deforestation. At a US-led climate summit, he promised to double

the money reserved for environmental enforcement and to

end illegal deforestation by 2030.

Brazil breaks vow to tackle deforestation in the Amazon
Brazil breaks vow to tackle deforestation in the Amazon
But the budget signed off on Friday did not include his spending pledge,

or additional proposals made by Congress.

His government has weakened protections and wants to develop

protected areas. Critics say the president’s promises on Thursday were

linked to a controversial deal Brazil is negotiating with the US to

receive financial aid in return for protecting the Amazon,

the world’s largest rainforest, and other areas.

The 2021 federal budget includes 2.1bn reais (£280m; $380m) for the

environment ministry and agencies it oversees. The ministry had

a budget of about 3bn reais in 2020.

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Late on Friday, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles said he had requested

the economy ministry to review the numbers and fulfil the pledge made by

President Bolsonaro at the virtual climate summit hosted by

US President Joe Biden. The environmental policies of President Bolsonaro,

who is supported by powerful agribusiness leaders, have drawn

widespread condemnation. The far-right leader has encouraged agriculture

and mining in the Amazon, and rolled back environmental legislation.

Last year, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon surged to a 12-year high.

Activists and indigenous groups say environmental enforcement remains

underfunded, and denounce the impunity for illegal logging and mining

in protected areas.

Brazil breaks vow to tackle deforestation in the Amazon

The president rejects the criticism, saying Brazil remains an example

for conservation. But at Thursday’s summit he attempted to strike

a more conciliatory tone, and also promised that Brazil would reach

zero carbon emissions by 2050, 10 years earlier than previously agreed.

Brazilian and US officials have been discussing the possibility of collaborating

to stop the destruction of the Amazon. Politicians and environmentalists

have warned that the Bolsonaro government should show results first

before any financial commitment is made.

Earlier this week, a group of 35 US and Brazilian celebrities voiced their

opposition to a deal with Brazil, saying it risked legitimising a government

that was encouraging environmental destruction.

The document followed another letter in which more than 200 Brazilian

groups told President Biden that the Bolsonaro government was an

“enemy” of the Amazon and that it did not have legitimacy to represent Brazil.

Last week, the environment minister said the country would need $1bn in

foreign aid to support efforts to reduce deforestation in the

Amazon by 30% to 40% in a year.

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