With a dense vote that took the entire trial session this Thursday, 31, Minister Cármen Lúcia, of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), recognized the existence of an unconstitutional state of affairs in the environmental policy of the Jair Bolsonaro government (PL) .
Today’s session was interrupted without the magistrate having finished reading her vote, which will be resumed next week. The rapporteur of six of the seven actions on the green agenda in the STF emphasized that the Amazon may be on the verge of the “point of no return”, when the devastation reaches an irreversible stage, caused by “ecocriminality” and state omission, as the state accuses. opposition parties in the trial proceedings.
“Inertia, insufficient action, or action contrary to constitutional duties, stains the state’s action with unconstitutionality, imposing judicial intervention to restore the effectiveness of constitutional rights, environmental dignity, the fundamental rights of individuals of present and future generations”, said the minister, justifying the need for the Supreme to act in an area of responsibility of the Executive and Legislative Powers.
The statements were made amid a pro-military dictatorship demonstration held by Bolsonaro supporters in front of the Supreme Court building. Within the Court, Cármen Lúcia highlighted the importance of reformulating public policies lenient with the violation of the Environment: “We have an ecosystem guaranteed in the Constitution and an ecocriminality that cannot be maintained and needs to be properly restricted, prevented, embarrassed and punished after the due process of law, with compliance with the law”.
This was the second session of judgment of the actions against the acts and omissions of the government in the environmental and climatic areas. On today’s agenda, two actions were jointly analyzed that deal with the inertia and inefficiency of the government in the Amazon. Right at the opening for the vote, Cármen Lúcia cited the statements by the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, that Brazil would be a “small transgressor” of environmental legislation and a “small polluter” at a global level. Before Guedes, the former Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, had already talked about “passing the cattle”, easing inspections in the legal Amazon. In response, the minister stated that the transgression of the Brazilian State was confessed by unofficial speeches by an official authority.
Faced with the unconstitutional state of affairs in which the country would find itself, the minister-rapporteur stated that the Judiciary must act in the face of the “terminization” of the environment and democracy. “What are these termites? The termite of authoritarianism, populism, personal interests, administrative inefficiency. All this to build a framework that does not have the guaranteed objective fulfillment, content, of the constitutional matter duly ensured”, explained Cármen Lúcia.
The minister also highlighted that, when dealing with environmental issues, it is not uncommon “for the State to pretend that it has a bureaucratic and administrative apparatus”, generating a true “administrative environmental theater”. According to the magistrate, this theatrical scenario is explained when governments maintain inspection structures that do not work.
According to a document published by the NGO Conectas, which was admitted as amicus curi in this trial, Brazil is among the countries in the world with the highest number of environmental and climate laws. Still, deforestation in the legal Amazon broke records during the first three years of the Bolsonaro government – the peak was reached in 2021, when almost 12,000 km² were deforested, according to INPE. The argument of the plaintiffs in the lawsuits under trial is that the suspension of planned programs to combat deforestation – such as the Plan of Action for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon, PPCDAm – would be preventing State policies from materializing into actions.
In her vote as rapporteur, the minister agreed, arguing that the conscious precariousness of environmental protection agencies violate “the constitutional duty to act efficiently, which is an obligation of the state and society to preserve, protect and, where appropriate, restore the conditions of the environment”.
The statements were made as a result of provocations by opposition parties, which pointed to alleged omissive and commissive acts by government agencies in relation to the execution of an effective plan to prevent deforestation in the Amazon, as well as by the President of the Republic and the Minister of the Environment. to curb the advance of deforestation in the forest.
The minister also refutes the president’s argument, whose justification for the suspension of funds was the alleged defense of national sovereignty, Carmen Lúcia points out that on the Amazon “the sovereignty of the Brazilian people is exercised”, and explains: “the sovereignty of the people it has a responsibility factor and not a privilege and exclusivity factor. Sovereignty is not being discussed, but how the sovereign people of Brazil take care of this forest because they have the duties of caring for the climate condition of the planet, from the protection and preservation of this area,” she said.
The minister argues that the “carbon emission” – half of Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions derive from deforestation – affects not only Brazil, but the entire world. “Your sovereign care [da floresta Amazônica] for the Brazilian people corresponds, therefore, to a duty that we all have as part of the Brazilian people with all humanity, due to the impact that its preservation or devastation represents on the survival of all beings on the planet”, he added.
Before the minister’s vote, the Attorney General of the Republic, Augusto Aras, presented the manifestation of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF). The head of the PGR commented on Carmen Lúcia’s statements in the previous session, when she mocked the fact that he had spoken out against an action proposed by the institution during the administration of former attorney general Raquel Dodge. For Aras, the differences are part of the change of command.
On the environmental issue, Aras restricted himself to formal issues: he highlighted the importance of the Supreme Court’s self-restraint in relation to Congress and the Executive, “under penalty of the Judiciary replacing the legislator in political choices”. The Attorney General of the Republic also said that “protecting and preserving the Amazon is a fundamental issue and a duty of the State”, but “issues around the environment are of high technical expertise and involve different political views”.
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