“Lula’s Ambitious Amazon Rescue Plans Collide with Reality”
On August 9, 2023, in Belem, Para State, Brazil, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva addresses the media during the Amazon Summit at the Hangar Convention Center. The timing was impeccable: Brazil unveiled its vast fossil-fuel investment plans, which include oil exploration near the mouth of the Amazon river, just as Ecuador announced its historic decision to suspend oil drilling in a vulnerable Amazon rainforest reserve on August 21, 2023. For Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who positions himself as a climate warrior but also faces criticism for his intentions to expand Latin America’s largest economy with fossil fuels, the topic of oil is becoming more and more uncomfortable.
The victory of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil’s election last year brought a sigh of relief to environmentalists everywhere. His conservative predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, had destroyed the environmental agency, covered up unlawful gold mining, and attacked the rights of indigenous people. Lula, on the other hand, vowed to lead global efforts to combat climate change and put an end to unlawful deforestation in the Amazon. An ambitious plan to halt illicit deforestation in the Amazon by the end of the decade was unveiled by the left-winger on June 5. No conflict should exist between environmental preservation and economic development, he insisted. But Lula’s environmental plan is experiencing challenges.
Brazil is ideally situated to spearhead efforts to combat climate change, in principle. Compared to the global average of 29%, it generated 82% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2019. Instead of electricity, deforestation and agriculture are the main sources of its carbon emissions.
Rich benefits are promised for stopping deforestation. According to the World Bank, the Amazon rainforest is worth $317 billion annually, mostly as a carbon store from which the rest of the world benefits.
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