The Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) published a report this Thursday pointing to the largest deforestation in 15 years in the Amazon rainforest, the largest in the world. Experts warn of the counterproductive actions of the Government of Jair Bolsonaro in the face of handling a situation that could have unprecedented ecological impacts worldwide.
On Thursday, November 18, the National Institute for Space Research, INPE, reported that the Amazon lost 13,235 square kilometers of vegetation cover between August 2020 and July 2021. An equivalent to almost 17 times the size of New York City and reaching areas similar to Montenegro, surpassing the size of countries such as Qatar. , Jamaica or Kosovo. It is the largest degraded area of the Amazon rainforest in a 12-month period for 15 years.
Considered the ‘plant lung of the world’ and recognized as the largest rainforest on the planet, the Amazon faced a cutting down of its trees that increased to almost 22% this year, surpassing the figures of the past years. The INPE report, dated October 27, showed that deforestation had increased in each of the last four cycles, something unprecedented since at least 2000.
The Brazilian climate advocacy group, Observatório do Clima, called on Twitter to the attention of John Kerry, the US president’s special envoy to COP26, posting a photo of him and the Brazilian environment minister, asking how much He felt cheated by the promises of the Bolsonaro government to reduce deforestation in the Amazon.
“Hello, (John Kerry) How does it feel to be deceived? When you posed for this photo with the Brazilian minister (of the Environment, Joaquim Leite), he already knew that deforestation in 2021 had reached the figure of 13,000 km2, the highest in 15 years, but he didn’t bother to tell her, “the message reads.
According a statement from the Union of Public Employees in the Area of Science and Technology, INPE management and the Government had known since mid-October the data on the worsening of deforestation, but only authorized its release after the conclusion of COP26.
Uncertain promises in the face of illegal deforestation
“No country in the world has a more complete environmental legislation than ours,” President Jair Bolsonaro had affirmed in the middle of COP 26. However, and despite the fact that he had announced that he would put a definitive brake on illegal logging in most In the world’s rainforest, mining and commercial agriculture in protected parts of the rainforest remain untouched.
A brake that is supposed to be efficient in two years and will be definitively extended by 2028. The objective will require aggressive annual reductions in destruction, something that does not seem to happen this year. And, if the latest partial figures presented at COP26 were less dramatic, the latest INPE report ended up showing that the threat to the Amazon is serious at all levels.
Joaquim Leite declared this Thursday in a press conference that “the figures continue to be a challenge for us and we have to be more forceful in relation to these crimes.” The minister claimed that the data did not reflect the recent intensification of law enforcement against illegal deforestation, however admitting that the government must do more to combat the destruction of the Amazon.
For a few years, Boslonaro’s measures to demonstrate that his government protects the jungle have fallen short.
In 2019, the president deployed the military in the Amazon to control deforestation, but an investigation by the Reuters news agency it showed errors on the part of the Army and incompetence to be able to stop the environmental damage. The lack of knowledge of the jungle, the lack of structure for this type of operations or forceful actions to capture or intervene in illegal incursions and logging were the main factors of failure.
For Mauricio Voivodic, head of the environmental group WWF in Brazil, the numbers of the latest INPE report revealed “the real Brazil that the Bolsonaro government tries to hide with imaginary speeches and efforts to ‘greenwashing’ abroad” , referring to a recent statement in which the far-right leader denied that the Amazon suffered fires. Finishing by stating that in reality “the Bolsonaro government has accelerated the course of the destruction of the Amazon.”
On Tuesday, October 12, 2021, a group of lawyers specialized in climate issues asked the International Criminal Court to initiate an investigation against Jair Bolsonaro and accused him of crimes against humanity due to environmental policies in the country – or the lack of them – and its impact on the Amazon.
An ecological impact contrary to the promises at COP26
Brazil, hosting most of the world’s rainforest, was seen as crucial at COP26. The trees in this area absorb most of the carbon dioxide emitted on the planet, without these trees, global warming would be much more shocking. Some scientists have already warned that, if the Amazon rainforest continues to be destroyed, a turning point will be reached, where all its territory would dry up, to become savanna.
A scenario that could be devastating. Huge amounts of carbon would be released, no doubt ensuring that the world will no longer be able to meet the targets set to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
For Márcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Brazilian Climate Observatory, the INPE data highlights the lack of actions of the Brazilian government to fulfill its promises made at COP26, stating that “emissions are produced on the forest floor, not in the Glasgow plenary sessions. “
Last week a study was presented in Glasgow, during COP 26, by the Amazon Scientific Panel that brings together 200 international experts. It warns that, if the current high rates of deforestation are maintained, the ‘plant lung of the world’ will reach a point of no return before 2050, which will lead it to lose up to 70% of its native vegetation.
With Reuters and EFE