What a profound relief for the Amazon – Lula beats Bolsonaro

What a profound relief for the Amazon, Brazil’s Indigenous people, and the planet. Lula’s election really is a big deal: When you dig into his agenda for the environment, it’s exhilarating: 

🌳 Restoring environmental law enforcement 
🌳 Creating half a million square kilometers of Indigenous reserves and protected areas. 
🌳 Tax incentives to drive development onto degraded land instead of pristine ecosystems and support sustainable farming.

Lula is also likely to restart the Amazon fund that works with international partners to support conservation and partner with other rainforest nations.

As big of a victory for the climate as this is, however, the election of pro-deforestation governors and congressional representatives means fully achieving Lula’s vision faces challenges. Bringing environmental cops back on the beat and tax changes require Congress to appropriate funds to operationalize it.

Some of the biggest obstacles are the international companies that dominate Brazil’s enormous meat industry – by far the biggest driver of deforestation. Carrefour, Tesco, Stop & Shop, and BNP Paribas engaged in shameful behavior during the Bolsonaro administration. No matter how many acres went up in smoke or how many land defenders were murdered, they continued doing business with the companies most linked to the deforestation spree. I hope Lula’s administration will investigate these companies’ actions. 

Under Lula’s previous administration, deforestation plummeted even as the agriculture sector surged. He broke the link between environmental destruction and economic growth. During his time in office from 2003 to 2011 Lula radically reduced the deforestation of the globally important Amazon. Still, much of the hard work was undone by Bolsonaro, who weakened environmental protection and Indigenous land rights over the last four years. One study says during his presidency, the Amazon lost 2 billion trees.

Tackling deforestation in Brazil remains critical for the country to meet its climate pledges. Emissions linked to deforestation and agriculture make Brazil the seventh highest polluter globally. Despite Brazil’s pledges to rein in deforestation at the COP26 summit last year in Glasgow, it is still very much active in Brazil.

Brazil now has an opportunity to go even further and transform from a major source of climate pollution into the country doing more to suck carbon out of the air than anywhere else in the world…if the private sector companies who have financed the destruction can finally get out of the way.

For our part, we’re going to be ramping up campaigns to ensure that these companies finally respect Brazil’s natural resources and people so that an environmental disaster never happens again.