US may announce membership of the Amazon Fund at Lula and Biden meeting


The United States is considering its first contribution to the Amazon Fund, which aims to combat deforestation in the Amazon, with possible announcement during a meeting of Presidents Joe Biden and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at the White House this Friday (10), two women said. US authorities with direct knowledge of the matter.

A U.S. contribution to the Brazil-managed Amazon Fund would underscore firmer ties between the western hemisphere’s two largest democracies, after frostier relations between Biden and former president Jair Bolsonaro.

The Amazon Fund was created in 2009 with an initial donation from Norway to help fight deforestation and encourage sustainable development in Brazil. Bolsonaro froze the fund upon taking office in 2019, but Lula restarted it with the support of Norway and Germany.

The UK is also thinking of joining the fund, which has raised $1.3 billion (R$6.8 billion) so far.

The White House said it had no announcements “at this time”.

A spokesman for the White House National Security Council said Biden and Lula will discuss what actions can be taken to combat the climate crisis.

It was not immediately clear how much the United States was considering investing in the fund, officials said. One of the sources added that Washington hopes joining the fund will “solidify” the fight to protect the rainforest and “turn back the clock on all this deforestation and wildfires”.

Last week, Germany announced a new donation of 35 million euros (R$ 197 million) to the Amazon Fund, as part of a promise of 200 million euros (R$ 1.1 billion) in the environmental area for Brazil.

US interest in the Amazon Fund reflects a greater desire to help Brazil protect the world’s largest rainforest, a crucial bulwark against climate change, where destruction has increased during Bolsonaro’s four-year term.

In November, Reuters reported that Washington is looking to crack down on the environmental criminals behind deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, using penalties like those in the Magnitsky Act to tackle climate change more aggressively.

The official said the Biden-Lula talks would include a commitment to “strengthen cooperation against environmental crime.”
(Additional reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Anthony Boadle)

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