Analysis: Such a low value for the Amazon Fund was not expected from the US


It is not new that some American collaboration with the protection of the Amazon is expected, since President Joe Biden has made the fight against the climate emergency one of his main government objectives.

Still in September 2020, when he was a candidate for the presidency of the United States, Biden said, in a debate with Donald Trump, that the Amazon was being destroyed and that he would mobilize worldwide to raise US$ 20 billion to help protect the biome and stop the destruction of the forest.

There was not even a shadow of this movement during the Bolsonaro administration, probably due to the fact that there was no counterpart on the part of the former Brazilian president, not even a sign that he intended to fight deforestation or fires. Quite the opposite.

But Ricardo Salles, former minister of the environment, even after mocking and disdaining Biden’s speech, made a series of efforts to get some transfer. After the debate in the US, Salles even posted on Twitter: “Just one question: is Biden’s USD 20 billion aid per year?”. In the following year, however, after the Democrat’s victory, he began to negotiate resources, including in meetings with John Kerry, the United States special envoy for the climate.

The problem is that the request basically sounded like blackmail. Shortly before leaving office on suspicion of favoring loggers, Salles was telling the Americans that he could reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 40% if the US made a contribution of US$ 1 billion.

The US did not fall into the conversation, as was to be expected. How can one believe in the intentions of a government that only made deforestation grow and that had precisely paralyzed the fund that already brought help from other nations to combat deforestation?

While Salles passed the hat to the Americans, the Amazon Fund was paralyzed. About R$ 3 billion that had already been passed on previously by Norway and Germany since the beginning of the fund’s operation, in 2009, simply stopped being used due to idiosyncrasies of Salles and Bolsonaro.

In one of his first actions as minister, Salles raised suspicions about the application of the fund – without ever presenting any evidence – and dismantled the governance mechanisms. Norway and Germany reacted and suspended new transfers. It was just the beginning of the environmental dismantling. The former president delivered the country with a level of forest destruction 60% higher than what he found when he took office.

Nor was it to be expected that now, when there will finally be American support, such a low value would come. As colleagues Patrícia Campos Mello and Thiago Amâncio found out, only US$ 50 million will be transferred.

The amount has not even been officially announced. The joint statement released by the Brazilian government says only: “The United States announced its intention to work with Congress to provide resources for programs to protect and conserve the Brazilian Amazon, including initial support for the Amazon Fund, and to leverage investments in this very important region. “.

As soon as Lula was re-elected and traveled to the UN Climate Conference in Egypt – where he made the same commitment, said this Friday to Biden, to zero deforestation in the Amazon by 2030 – John Kerry met there with Marina Silva. She hadn’t even been appointed to the Ministry of the Environment yet, but she was already moving in favor of boosting the Amazon Fund with new donors.

Is not for nothing. The search is not only for external resources, but for a commitment from the countries that at the same time endorses the capacity of the Lula government to control deforestation. The Amazon Fund represents this. Between 2004 and 2012, the Lula 1 and 2 and Dilma 1 governments reduced forest devastation by 80%. It was based on these results that the fund was created, remunerating the country for the performance obtained.

“In recent years, the Amazon has been invaded by political irrationality, by human irrationality, because we had a president who ordered deforestation. He ordered prospecting in indigenous areas. And I made a commitment that by 2030 we will reach zero deforestation in the Amazon,” said Lula this Friday to Biden. The American crossed his fingers at the promise.

He knows that Lula is in a position to fulfill his commitment. Joining the fund would be her vote of confidence. But the United States could do much more. Inspecting, for example, in its own territory products from the destruction of the forest, such as wood, gold and other ores.

It could put pressure on soy traders and big packers to trace the entire grain and meat chain to ensure they weren’t grown and bred in deforested areas. Thus hindering the very existence of the market that drives destruction. And it could invest in research to seek sustainable development alternatives for the region.

Biden knows that Lula is right in one more line: “Taking care of the Amazon today is taking care of planet Earth”. And if the Amazon succumbs, there is no clean energy plan that will be enough to get us out of climate change. Let those US$ 50 million be just the “initial support”.

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