Difficult to navigate with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
In our article yesterday, we told you that he had decided that his country would not respect its own commitments and that the new objectives would be revised significantly downwards, again provoking the anger of NGOs.
Today, we learn that the same president wrote a letter to Joe Biden in which he indicates that he wants to put an end to illegal deforestation in the Amazon by… .2030. He said: "We want to reaffirm […] our commitment to eradicate all illegal deforestation in Brazil by 2030". The announcement comes just days before the virtual climate summit hosted by Joe Biden on April 22-23. Summit in which Brazil is supposed to take part alongside forty other heads of state.
However, the letter seems to condition the end of deforestation to aid and support from the international community. Bolsonaro explains that he can only achieve this goal with "significant resources" and that he hopes to be able to count on "all the support possible" from the international community, businesses and civil society.
Remember that the Brazilian president is used to this kind of promises that he does not keep. In 2015, it was already one of the signatories of the Paris Agreement and had accepted its terms. However, since then, the destruction of the Amazon forest under his aegis has never been so rapid and it is not the passes of arms with other nations like France or the United States nor the threats of economic sanctions of the past years. that scared him.
So what happened for Bolsonaro to change gear and be more conciliatory? The numerous attacks by NGOs mentioned in our previous article? His advisers who made him understand that his environmental management is in unison with his management of the pandemic and that by the same token, the image of his country is affected? The approach of the presidential elections and the fear of an electoral weakening?
Hard to say. Still, he declared himself "ready to work with the international community for the protection of the environment and sustainable development in the Amazon".
It did not take more to react his fiercest opponent: Chief Raoni. At 90, he remains a tireless defender of the Amazon rainforest and a worthy representative of the peoples who live there. Speaking directly to the US presidency, he urged Joe Biden not to give credit to Bolsonaro's statements, pointing out that the latter easily practices the art of lying: "He told a lot of lies" and to add : "If that bad president tells you something, ignore him. He wants to authorize deforestation and stimulate intrusions on our land ” .
Chief Raoni took advantage of this intervention to request the assistance of the United States in order to "find a way, a solution to preserve the environment". "Help me and I will help you too, so we can do good things." I can't pronounce your name, but you know me. My name is Raoni and I'm not here to joke. I have always fought for the forest ”. "I am sad because everything I have done for the environment is increasingly threatened".
To say that Raoni and Bolsonaro don't like each other is weak. When one treats the other as a "liar" , "a persecutor of indigenous peoples destroying habitats, violating fundamental rights" and not hesitating to prosecute him before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity ", the Brazilian president retaliates and tries to discredit Raoni by accusing him of "being in the pay of foreign powers threatening the sovereignty of Brazil" .
It will be interesting to see the response of the American president as well as the position of the international community in the coming days. One thing is certain, there is almost a decade between now and 2030. It is a very long time. And at the rate that Bolsonaro takes care of the Amazon rainforest, we have every right to be very worried.