BRAZIL: Only a day after Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro vowed to boost spending to tackle deforestation, he has now approved a cut to the environment ministry budget.
At a US-led climate summit, Bolsonaro promised to double the money reserved for environmental enforcement and to end illegal deforestation by 2030. But on Friday, the budget that was signed off did not include his spending pledge or additional proposals made by Congress.
Critics say the president’s promises on Thursday were followed by a controversial deal Brazil is negotiating with the US to receive financial aid to protect the world’s largest rainforest, Amazon, and other areas.
Environment Minister Ricardo Salles on Friday said he had requested the economy ministry to review the numbers of the 2021 federal budget and fulfill the pledge made by President Bolsonaro at the US-led virtual climate summit. The far-right president has rolled back on environmental legislation and has encouraged agriculture and mining in the Amazon. And with the budget, he has drawn even more condemnation.
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon was at a whopping 12-year high last year. According to activists, environmental enforcement is underfunded, and they denounce the impunity for illegal logging and mining in protected areas. The president however has dismissed the criticism saying Brazil remains an example for conservation.
Brazilian and US officials have been trying to join hands to stop the destruction of the environment. Politicians and environmentalists have warned that before making any promise, the Bolsonaro government should show results first.
Earlier this week, a group of 35 US and Brazilian celebrities voiced their stance opposing a deal with Brazil, saying it risked legitimizing a government that was so against the environment. Another letter of around 200 Brazillian groups told the US president and that the Bolsonaro government was an enemy of the Amazon and was incapable of legitimacy to represent Brazil.
Last week, the environment minister said the country would need $1bn in foreign aid to support efforts to reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 30% to 40% in a year.