We must protect the Amazon rainforest to have a chance against climate change. But how to do when the majority of the Amazonian territory is controlled by a government which encourages its destruction?
The Amazon is the center of the climate emergency – it is home to 10% of the world’s known biodiversity and it stores 150-200 ug of carbon, equivalent to between two and three times all the CO2 emitted by the UK since 1750. This region is also multicultural – over 300 languages are spoken across the basin.
The largest and most diverse rainforest on the planet is under threat. After a decade of reducing deforestation, the numbers have jumped from 2019, when the world was hit by the great Amazon fires that followed a period of high deforestation rates. These large fires and rates of deforestation were a direct result of the rhetoric and actions of the then newly elected Brazilian president. Jair Bolsonaro was elected threatening to suppress the environment ministry and facilitate mining and agricultural expansion. Bolsonaro’s government has continuously attacked and drastically cut funds environmental agencies, research organizations and conservation programs, leaving those responsible for monitoring and protecting the forest completely without help.
The Brazilian government has acted to diminish the power of indigenous peoples over their lands, and has particularly stimulated invasions of these territories for mining and illegal logging. Much of the Amazon rainforest is on indigenous territory and the tribes have autonomy over them.
The Brazilian government has acted to destroy the Amazon rainforest and its people. A health crisis that took place in the Amazon region was the epicenter of the Brazilian Covid health crisis with approx. 4,500 deaths per million – more than twice the death toll in the UK. During the pandemic, the Brazilian government allowed evangelical missionaries to come into contact with isolated native tribes, helping to spread the virus to remote areas that lack of basic medical infrastructure. Behind the scenes, as the pandemic hit the Brazilian Amazon extremely hard, the government took action to weaken environmental protections and make the application of environmental law more flexible.
Earlier this year, at the leader’s climate summit in 2021, Bolsonaro delivered a speech completely different from all the actions of his government, in which he claimed to be concerned about the Amazon and its people and asked for funds. international organizations to preserve the Amazon. However, while claiming to protect the region, in the aftermath of the climate summit Bolsonaro cut funds from the Ministry of the Environment.
The humanitarian losses, the threat to biodiversity and the ability to regulate the climate are irreversible and too great for the rest of the world to wait for the next Brazilian elections. The solution to this looming crisis lies in the fact that nations and companies that import products linked to deforestation, such as soybeans, meat and minerals, must reconsider their agreements and impose sanctions to avoid destruction of the land. ‘Amazonia. Individuals contribute by putting pressure on these organizations to act responsibly and fight against the destruction of the Amazon forests.
While sanctions are the way to force the government to change its actions, those fighting the crisis on the ground and being attacked by the government need support. Sanctions against those who destroy the forest must be accompanied by funds for Amazonian communities and initiatives that protect the forest independently of the Brazilian government, such as tem gente com fome, apib and IS A. There is no time to waste – human lives and forests are destroyed every minute and with them we lose our only chance to tackle the current climate emergency – the world must act now.