“For President Biden, the partnership with Brazil is crucial to effectively tackling the shared global challenge of climate change,” said the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, after a virtual visit to the United Nations on Monday.
The American Secretary of State also highlighted the “remarkable bilateral economic relationship” with Brazil, which reaches US $ 100 billion a year.
Biden, a Democrat who believes in creating millions of jobs to adapt infrastructure and ensure a clean energy future, invited Jair Bolsonaro to an April Climate Leaders Summit on April 22-23.
The virtual meeting “underlines the urgency and economic benefits of taking stronger action” to curb global warming, the White House said of the meeting, for which 40 dignitaries were called.
Brazil, which concentrates more than 60% of the Amazon rainforest that spans nine South American nations, registered the highest deforestation rates in 2020 in 12 years.
The NGO World Resources Institute denounced on Wednesday that the Brazilian virgin forest lost 1.7 million hectares in 2020, an increase of 25% in one year.
The destruction, which experts attribute mainly livestock, to the cultivation of soybeans and the extraction of wood and minerals, threatens the rainforest’s ability to absorb the carbon dioxide that regulates the global climate.
– “Stop deforestation” –
In 2015, Brazil signed the Paris Agreement, the legally binding international treaty on climate change, which aims to limit global warming to 2 Celsius above pre-industrial levels and continue efforts to lower it to 1.5C.
Under the pact, Brazil promised zero illegal deforestation and reforesting 12 million hectares by 2030.
But since taking office in January 2019, Bolsonaro, a far-right populist and skeptical of climate change, has cut funding for environmental programs and is pushing for protected Amazon lands to be used for agribusiness and mining.
A State Department spokesman told AFP that the United States and Brazil need to work together to unite environmental protection and economic growth.
“In a nutshell: we hope to expand our cooperation and see Brazil take more concrete steps to combat climate change and achieve zero net (carbon) emissions by 2050. And a large part of that stops deforestation,” he said.
In its 2020 report, IMCCS, a group of military and security experts, pointed out that Brazil must make fighting deforestation a “priority”.
Oliver-Leighton Barrett, lead author of the report, hopes that the Bolsonaro government “will make Brazil return to the path once responsible for environmental and climate imperatives and show that development does not have to be done at the expense of the environment or security”.
– “Good partnership” –
The United States recognizes that economic resources are needed to preserve the Brazilian Amazon.
“We are considering several mechanisms to support Brazil’s efforts,” said the State Department official, speaking about the efforts of Biden’s special climate envoy, John Kerry, to reduce the carbon footprint inside and outside the United States.
During last year’s election campaign, Biden promised to raise US $ 20 billion in all countries to stop Brazil deforesting and warned of “significant economic consequences” if he does not do so.
Bolsonaro replied with a tute in capital letters: “Our sovereignty is not negotiable”.
The State Department spokesman pointed out that the United States “respects Brazil’s sovereignty” in the management of the Amazon.
“We came to the table as a good partner to encourage Brazil to achieve more ambitious goals,” he said.
The United States, the world’s first economy and the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China, returned to the Paris Agreement with Biden after his predecessor Donald Trump abandoned him because he considered it unfair.
Kerry, who signed the pact as Secretary of State for Barack Obama, promised “strong” US climate action commitments to be announced during the Leaders’ Summit.
The United States is responsible for 15% of global carbon emissions, compared to 1% for Brazil, according to the NGO Union of Concerned Scientists.
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