Human Rights Report 2022: Bolsonaro encouraged criminal deforestation practices

The government of Jair Bolsonaro (PL) has weakened environmental inspection policies and equipment since taking over the Presidency in January 2019. With this, it has encouraged criminal networks that work in deforestation, using violent practices against defenders of environmental protection. Forest. The finding is from the 2022 World Report by the international organization Human Rights Watch (HRW), released globally this Thursday (13).

Data from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) show that the number of fines for infractions related to deforestation paid to the eight states of the Legal Amazon between 2019 and 2020 was 93% lower than the average of the previous five years. The amount collected is the lowest in 21 years.

According to the study, in 2013, during the Dilma Rousseff (PT) government, around R$ 25 million were collected, the highest amount in the analyzed period, between 2000 and 2020. In the second year of the Bolsonaro government, in 2020, it reached only R$ $66,000, from just 13 infraction notices.

::Amazon in destruction: understand and see how the stages of deforestation happen::

It is not, however, for lack of deforestation that the number of fines plummeted. On the contrary: between August 2020 and July 2021, 13,235 square kilometers of the Amazon were deforested, representing a growth of 22%, the highest figure for the period since 2006.

“The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) had its report ready, with these updated data, on October 27, four days before the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. However, the government only released it on November 18, after the summit ended, in an apparent attempt to avoid criticism,” the HRW report highlights.

“In deforested areas, criminal groups often set fire to remaining vegetation after extracting valuable timber in order to clear land for grazing or land speculation. (…) The government promoted bills that would encourage deforestation by granting amnesty to land grabbers, making environmental licensing more flexible and opening up indigenous lands for mining and other projects with a high environmental impact”, describes the organization in another part of the report.

HRW also claims that Brazil has contributed to the “increasing costs that the climate crisis has represented for human rights around the world”. Currently, the country is one of the 10 largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world.

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“The increase in deforestation in the Amazon, permitted by the Bolsonaro government, has increased overall emissions and could cause vast swaths of the rainforest to turn to dry savanna in the next few years, releasing billions of tons of stored carbon.”

In front of the world, the Bolsonaro government promised, from the December 2020 climate action plan, a smaller reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions compared to the previous plan, in 2016. For the organization, this is a “regression that violates its obligations under the Paris Agreement”.

In the same year, former US President Donald Trump withdrew the country from the Paris Agreement. On this side, Bolsonaro threatened to follow the same steps. “If it was good, the American wouldn’t have left. We, for now, are there. Are we going to go out one day? Depends on who is next to us. Certain fights I can only ‘buy if I have strong people on my side’, said Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro’s climate action plan was classified as “highly insufficient” by the Climate Action Tracker, given the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

“In November 2021, the Brazilian delegation at the global climate summit in Glasgow, COP26, announced a new plan that still does not represent an increase in ambition compared to its initial plan presented in 2016. The delegation also committed to ending illegal deforestation by 2028, but the federal government had not yet adopted an operational plan to meet this target,” concludes the HRW report.

Editing: Rebeca Cavalcante

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