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Wed. December 07, 2022
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Bolsonaro in the Russian Roulette
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What have been done to our 1st “Planet Green Lung” and how the countries all around the world are managing to meet the international standards and to marginalize the misfits of Bolsonaro infringements of human rights, among which it should be obviously cited environmental crimes and disregarding in the compliance with international standards and agreements undertaken during fora and MoUs?

The Amazon region is the largest and probably the oldest tropical rainforest in the world[1], covering an area of 6.000.000 km2, comprising the most heterogeneous existing biodiversity in the globe. Amazon Tropical rainforest belongs to nine nations and its 60% is in Brazil. “The Central Amazon Conservation Complex” is inscribed in the World Heritage List and protected under the 1972 “Convention of concerning the protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage”.

The ongoing deforestation, a clearance or clear-cutting of wide portions of vegetation in order to convert them to different uses, one of the main key points of this discussion, is more alarming in the Amazon, inflamed by wild fires, provoked not only by global warming, but also by the unpunished illegal activities that put in danger the health conditions of thousands of people. It’s been lamented by many NGOs that, since Bolsonaro took office in 2019, the  environmental law’s enforcement has been negligible as, already during his 1st year of government, this phenomenon increased by 85%.

According to Amazon Watch, man-made deforestation is mainly due to small scale subsistence agriculture and croplands (according to FAO, the 70% of the formerly forested lands in the Amazon is used for livestock pasture), razing a huge amount of acres, using pesticides and chemical agents, cattle-grazing,  extracting fossil fuel,  mining, building large-scale hydroelectric dams and highways, making things worse and riding roughshod over Indigenous people's rights, whose loggings and territories have been brushed away, for real estate speculation. Furthermore, other than for these reasons, international trade for fuel and agricultural goods are pushing Brazil to a complete erasement. AW is proposing a development of green economy and autonomous solar systems energy. The rich variety of plants and animal species, playing an important role in maintaining biodiversity and the preservation of biomes, sequestering and storing carbon, controlling pollution are essential not only  for human life of many Amerindians[2], or  ”Indigenous people of America”, that inhabit these forests as hunter-gatherers or farmers, but for all the planet. Many kinds of quarries of precious metals (gold, silver, cotton) and fossil fuels (oil and natural gas) can be found underneath these rainforests but ravishing human exploitment, mining and drilling activities requiring a large amount of land, contributes to increase it, not even adding the damages caused by the climate change. To complete this overall description of the current facts, Amazon deforestation has been accelerated, as it was not enough, by Covid-19 pandemic. Brazil ranks the 3rd place in the world for Coronavirus cases, soon after USA and India, counting over 18 million confirmed infected people and reaching the 2nd death toll number involving 510000 persons. Economists expect a stagnation of the ongoing recession in 2020-21, causing in 2nd quarter of 2020 a further shrinking of GDP by 4.1 %, the worst level since 1990. Jair Bolsonaro has been accused to downplay Covid-19, to have tried to sabotage the necessary public health measures and hiding the number of vaccinated people. His administration has weakened environmental law enforcement, giving a green light to criminal networks operating in the Amazon and has used intimidation and violence against forest defenders, also perpetrating other human rights infringements, such as erecting new barriers to accessing legal abortion, leaving unsolved the rampant problem of police killings, that continue unabated, and of the severely overcrowded prisons where detainees are often subjects to tortures, extortion and recruitment by gangs[3].

Many NGOs, first of all Human Rights Watch and Amazon Watch,  underlined that often fires are not provoked by drought and adverse climate conditions but by criminals and that violence and the illegal unpunished deforestation business, worthing several millions of $. Mafia militias, living in remote areas,  seemed to be very hard to be sift by the “Guardians of the Forests”, Indigenous communities trying to contrast these crimes  and invasions, being not possible for them waiting for the intervention of authorities that are not investigating and prosecuting these culprits. Ibama (Instituto Brazilero do meio Ambiente and dos Recursos Naturals Renouàvers) keeps on indiscriminately imposing fines; Bolsonaro dismissed many environmental head agencies and argued that Ngos are just trying to draw the attention of the international community and put discredit on his government.  MAPA, the Ministry of Agriculture, declared that Brazilian livestock and supply has been deadly targeted by Ngos and put in a shivery and unsteadily thrilling position Bolsonaro in the relationships of his country within the multilateral and bilateral agreements. For him it’s a real Russian Roulette.

Going to investigate the UN and EU sets of rules on climate change, we especially remember the 8-13-15 UNSDGs[4] that come to fit and enhance the principles of a wide range of agreements: first of all the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, entered into force the 21st of March 1994, has a near-universal membership and aims to prevent dangerous man-made interference with the global climate system.  On this occasions first steps were made, borrowing a very important line from one of the most successful multilateral environmental treaties in history, the 1987 Montreal Protocol, in which Member States engaged themselves to act in the interests of human safety even in the face of scientific uncertainty. At the time, in fact, there was less scientific evidence than today.  The goals of the Convention is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations "at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human induced) interference with the climate system" within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, and to enable a sustainable economic development, allowing a system of grants and loans. managed by the “Global Environment Facility” , from Industrialized countries to less-advanced nations and sharing technology. After that, Paris Agreement, at the COP21 in Paris on 12 December 2015 and opened to signature to all 196 UNFCCC parties  in NY since  the 22 April 2016, after the so-called “double threshold”, and finally entered into force the 4th of November 2016 reaching the ratification of the minimum quorum of  55 countries accounting for at least 55% of global emissions, among which Brazil. It is the first ever legally binding international agreement undertaken to handle the negative impacts of climate change. The USA withdrew from this agreement in 2020, but rejoined in 2021. The Paris Agreement continues to be a beacon collectively guiding nations and all parts of society forward. It’s not just a framework but a set of rules. It sets forth a lowering of global warming level under 2° C (3.6° F), preferably about 1,5° C and, in order to achieve it, urged the implementation of economic and social transformations, based on the most innovative scientific and technological tools provided. The Paris Agreement works on a five years cycle of climate actions and by 2020 each country has to submit a plan based on compulsory  CNC (Nationally Determined Contributions) to reduce GHG emissions, to build resilience for the impact of rising temperatures, through  long term development strategies, that are fundamental for setting out the priorities to be pursued contemporarily providing a general vision and direction for future development. The Agreement authorizes financial assistance to the most vulnerable countries in order to mitigate the crisis and to facilitate adaptation, the enhancement of technological development, the empowerment of the developing countries capacity-building, by the use of transparent procedures and information. These dangerous emissions should be reduced to a net zero by the 2nd  half of the 21st century. No strict targets are imposed on the parties, but it’s expected they’ll go beyond these. After this agreement, many low carbon solutions and new types of markets have been sparked and more and more countries are setting out carbon neutrality targets, curtailing global emissions of 25%, especially in power and transport sectors, and by 2030 zero carbon solutions could represent over 70% of global emissions. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) – a critical element of the historic Paris Agreement - is the world’s largest climate fund, mandated to support developing countries raise and realize their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) ambitions. The GCF has so far contributed with about 200 mln $ to Brazil in total. It provides grant funding directly to the poorest and most vulnerable countries. Use grant funding to leverage private investment by combining grants with loans and equities from public and private sources, including bilateral and multilateral development banks.

Followed Kyoto Protocol, adopted in 1997, entered into force in 2005, fixed two commitments periods (a cut of GHG emissions in the atmosphere of 5% from 2008 to 2012, and of 18% from 2013 to 2020) meant to extend the 1992 UNFCCC that gathered consensus parties on tackling measures against global warming and human-made CO2 emissions. This Protocol promotes an offset of the carbon emissions, by the use of a regenerative agriculture, that’s turning many lands in grass fields. Tropics, in fact, are sponsored to remain the main “carbon sink”  and oxygen producer of the planet, although the ongoing environmental devastations, and to keep on remaining an important réservoir for the absorption of carbon chemical compound trough vegetations and oceans, acting as the most important CO2 binder.

The Doha Amendment to Kyoto Protocol, entered into force in Dec 2020, intended to reduce GHGE to “a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”  for the second round period. In details, were targeted 6 kinds of GHGE, among which the most dangerous are carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N20), hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). These goals has been mainly fixed for the developed countries, greatly responsible for that, and for the developing ones, taking into account their different capabilities to handle this degeneration. The Copenhagen Accord, instead,  drafted in 2019 by the USA, on the one hand, the United States and on the other, in a united position as the BASIC countries (ChinaIndiaSouth Africa, and Brazil), relating to the same topics, is not legally binding and does not commit countries to agree to a binding successor to the Kyoto Protocol, whose round ended in 2012.

Shifting towards EU panorama, it must be noted that it’s the 2nd most important actor in the struggle against the damages of the global changes aiming to become the 1st climate-neutral  continent by 2050, enacting internal initiatives and interacting with international partners for triggering adaptations to climate change and enhancing adaptation, intended as staggering scale up of  the international finance a tougher engagement of local communities and a better coordination at international level.

The EU Green Deal, Dec 2019, encompasses measures such as cutting carbon emissions in the biosphere, investing on research and innovation, preserving natural environmental heritage. It mainly consist of a  “European Climate Law“, pursuing 2050 climate-neutrality target into EU law, a “European Climate Target Pact” for societal mobilitization and sensitization on the issue, a “2030 Climate Change Plan” to reduce net GHG emissions by 55% by 2030 below 1990 level, instead of the previous target of 40%, a “European Strategy on Climate Adaptation” for resilience by 2050 to propel an abrupt friction against the unavoidable impacts of climate changes.

On 14 July 2021, the EC proposed a series of acts, the so-called “Fit for 55” proposals, setting out how it intends to achieve this neutrality:, that’s by a net reduction target of 55% of these emissions, below 1990 levels, as set out by “2030 Climate Target Plan” and “European Climate Law”. Transmitted for approval under the ordinary legislative procedures, they are focused on the implementation of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS), on strengthening the Market Stability Reserve .

“European Climate Law” objectives set long-term directions for a 2050 climate neutrality, creating a monitoring system on the progress made by the countries to be reported every 5 years, providing profitability for investors, ensuring this transition will be irreversible. By virtue of this law, the European Commission proposes the target of “net zero GHG emissions by 2050” to be reached in fairness and solidarity among MS. After being submitted for approval under the ordinary legislation procedure, this provisional  agreement has been approved in April 2021, waiting for the compulsory procedural time  for publication on OJEU. This has become the warhorse of Von der Leyen politics on climate change. The Commissions seems now more concerned about the future of the forests and admits that its target from 2008  are unlikely to be met.

Other these multilateral engagements, must be borne in mind more specific bilateral agreements with the LAC region. Biannual meetings for the “EU-CELAC action plan” keeps on taking place to yield dialogue on climate finance and to stimulate integration. Brazil and EU jointly work on fighting GHG emissions, deforestation and forest degradation, by enhancing researches, investments and diplomatic negotiations, and set a thematic programme, enacted from 2014 to 2020.

About International Climate Finance, in support to the European Green Deal, to achieve a sustainable environmental, societal and governance (ESG) finance, the EU  addressed about the 20% of the EU budget on climate action in 2020, roughly € 180 billion, whose € 317.5 million in the first phase (2007-2014) to € 420 million in the second phase (2014-2020), through the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+), a European Union flagship initiative helping the world's most vulnerable countries, trying to preserve biodiversity, to prevent pollution and to stimulate a circular economy, also in order to support a sustainable recovery from the impact of Covid-19 emergency. The Commission  presented on 14 July 2020, the “European Green Deal Investment Plan”, which mobilises € 41 trillion of sustainable investments over the next decade. It’s presented on 17 Sept 2020 its 2030 Climate Target Plan. The EU needs to invest approximately € 350  billion  more every year during the 2021-2030 decade, even if the scale of investment challenge is beyond the capacity of the public sector alone and must be intersected by private stakeholders.

About the legal panorama enframing Brazilian main ties in the international relations, we must first of all remember that it’s a Member of the UN since 2007, of UNHCR since 2019, other than of OCHA, OAS, the  Interamerican Human Right System and Mercosur, a regional integration process, established by Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, and in 2021, by the backing of USA it will become an OECD Member. Remarkably important for Brazil is the Mercosur- EU Free Trade Agreement, that has been denounced by environmental activists and Indigenous rights campaigners to have had the main liability on the ongoing deforestation practises because of the beef market putting at stake the international goals set for combating climate change. The core EU legislation is focused on a transparency and accountability system in the global stocktaking, on the minimization and address of  losses and damages associated with the adverse effects of climate change, the awareness of need of a better cooperation and understanding, a more effective action and support for  emergency preparedness and risk insurance.

Evidently, Bolsonaro federal government is going through a down-shifting trend about his credibility and compliance with international commitments, although his tackled efforts. In 2017 the Brazilian Cooperation Agency, under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, started to coordinate international humanitarian efforts to face the main environmental and anthropogenic disaster management and post-disaster reconstruction, public calamity and armed conflicts, handing out, i.e., basic goods and services, but these efforts seemed to be long distant to fix and provide a full and definitive solution to the problem.

Could Amazon Brazilian governments lead to a real change and getting Bolsonaro out of the blue, reversing the sort of the country? According to Hrw, the governors of Amazonian States should, first of all, prove a real progress in protecting rights and addressing the escalating destruction of the Amazon tropical rainforests while sabotages against the enforcement of environmental law keep on occurring. Furthermore, has been denounced that should be disclosed complete and transparent information on what’s happening, should be impeded fraudulent land claims encroaching on Indigenous lands rights, as criminal mafia is not stopping to drive deforestation and to raze lands. This Ngo has urged foreign countries, especially USA, to help Brazil to come out of the crisis. USA, Norway, UK replied by forming an Accelerating Forest Finance (Leaf) Coalition, pledging several million dollars to Brazilians under the condition to demonstrate their cut of emissions. The 15 April 2021, US Senators made clear in a letter to the President Joe Biden that any such assistance should be conditioned on Brazilian authorities that have to make significant and sustained progress on reducing deforestation and to end impunity for environmental crimes, intimidation and violence against forest defenders. US Special Envoy for Climate Change, John Kerry, and US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, have echoed calls for results.

The “Amazon Governors Consortium” is trying to support environmental preservation and a sustainable development, by a monitoring system that has recorded that more than 11000 square kms of rainforest were lost in the last two years, nearly triple the maximum target Brazil’s committed to reach by 2020 and, from Jan to May 2021, roughly 2550 square kms were destroyed,  25% more than last year.

Bolsonaro is defending his position also against the attacks of French government about a report lamenting its concern about the capacity of the Brazilian government to conceal some agricultural activities, such as beef production, and destruction of forest lands. He promptly rebutted that is able to increase its beef, soy, and corn production reducing at the same time deforestation, taking advantage of the technological innovation provided by the international community. Behind the scenes, he keeps on mildening the environmental crimes connected with this phenomenon, furthermore holds that present Forest Code establishes general rules on the protection of native vegetation and allows, i.e., landowners in the Amazon to set aside 80% of their properties for environmental conservation, even without any compensation and incentive coming from government, but Ngos are proving his poor internal measures and volatile interest to contrast these crimes against humanity and his substantial lack of compliance with international commitments. Obviously, the purpose of Bolsonaro is to impede the block of the sustainable trade flow with the rest of the world, fearing to further sharpening the ongoing recession. He believes that, in addition to the aids internationally provided, taking initiatives such as emboldening ecoturism, as indirect measure, could be a great incentive for the preservation of their environmental heritage, promoting the uniqueness of Amazonian uncontaminated landscapes and species of flora and fauna and involving different activities, such  jungle tours, sightseeing wilderness, native villages and exotic animals, it could drive positive economic changes.

For what concerns USA- Brazil relationships, we remember that the Stars and Stripes giant is the 2nd largest trading partner of Brazil and the most important destination for its export. During the 18 February 2021 Kerry- Bolsonaro talks, he formally confirmed his zero-tolerance policy against environmental crimes and, in those of 5 March 2021 between the USA Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and the Minister Ernesto Arujo was renewed their good will to cooperate.

In conclusion, by virtue of all these considerations and going beyond, it can be deduced that more than any kind of ongoing conflicts and violence that are currently destroying the planet Earth, sliding down the overall situation of human rights abuses, exacerbating the precariousness of the economic ups and downs and deep sinking of developing countries, the onset of always new pandemic variants,  the real emergency comes out to be the outright survival of our entire ecosystem, dangerously put at risk, that let’s fear the worst. Undermining the Green Lungs of our planet and making in suffering all living species in the Earth, altering and depauperating the biosphere and entire ecosystem suggest real worries about our destiny and can’t leave us indifferent: we keeps on inhaling toxicity and other kind of poisoning chemical substances, gunpowders, ashes from bruising fires and razed lands, other than keeps on adding crimes to crimes, exploitments, devastations, making all of us dirty and deadly suffocated in a desolate scattered trap!

The Thurnberg stinging accusation “How dare you!” has not been left out by the greatest international institutions and all we can hope is the “net zero emission of GHG by 2050 pursued by Von der Layer will turn into reality, but time is like a chain we can’t escape from: as an hourglass,  any sand grain flowing away from one ampoule gets unavoidably into the other and let’s wondering about what will occur at the end of these games! It’s very short, tightening and thrilling our certainties, and, being the situation degenerating and worrying from second to second and many measures and intermediate steps still to be implemented, we should mainly rely on the societal solidarity, efforts and activisms, and let that the real driving engine of the change will start from the people, by facilitating an encounter between a top-down and a bottom-up strategy.

Paola Canale is a writer/journalist covering International Relations and Human Rights.


[1] Tropical rainforests climate is characterized by the lack of a dry season (the monthly average precipitation is of at least 60 minutes) and are characterized by warm temperatures and high annual rainfalls. They can be classified in moist, montane and flooded rainforests. They cover about 31 % of the planet surface Between 15 mln to 18 mln hectares of them, an area of the size of Belgium, are destroyed every year, on average 2400 trees are cut down each minute. Rainforest covers the largest part of the Amazon region, most of the Guianas, southern and eastern Venezuela, the Atlantic slopes of the Brazilian Highlands, and the Pacific coast of Colombia and northern Ecuador.

[2] In the Amazon basin, Amerindians include Pigmies, Huaorani, Yanomamo, and Kayapo. Their cultivating system is based on swidden cultivation (also called slash-and-burn or shifting cultivation ), providing food and spices, such as coffee, chocolate, banana, mango, papaya, macadamia, avocado, sugarcane.

[3] To be remembered violence and threats in Tpajòs Basin and Yanonami Indigenous lands.

[4] http://sdgs.un.org/goals: 8) promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economy growth; 9) sustainable industrialization and foster innovation; 10)  reducing inequality within and among countries; 12) sustainable consumption and production patterns; 13) take urgent action to combat climate change  and its impact; 15) protect, promote and restore a sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainable management of forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss. (15.1) ensure conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in part forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with the obligations under international agreements; (15.3) by 2030, ensuring the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including biodiversity in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development, take action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species, coordination with local and national planning

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