President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday (30) that US President Joe Biden has “almost an obsession with the environmental issue” and that this “has a little hindrance” to the Brazilian government.
The statements were made during an interview with a radio station in Goiás.
“For my part, Brazil has its doors open and ready to continue the conversation with the American government. Obviously, the Biden government is a more left-wing government. A government that is almost obsessed with the environmental issue, so this gets in the way a little bit us,” said the president.
“Brazil is the country that most preserves its environment. We suffer attacks all the time from European countries. There they don’t know what riparian forest is because they don’t have it. Here it is. We have the strictest laws that deal with this question”.
Although Brazil is considered the country with the greatest biodiversity in the world, this is not reflected in the government’s commitment to the environment. In 2020, Brazil led the world ranking of deforestation.
The country concentrated more than a third of the surface of virgin forests devastated on the planet, about 1.7 million hectares, according to the Global Forest Watch report, released by the World Resources Institute.
In relation to the Amazon, deforestation grew about 9.5% from August 2019 to July 2020 compared to the previous period. In total, 11,088 km² of forest were cut down in this period of time. The consolidated data for the year are the first under the responsibility of the Bolsonaro government.
Thus, Bolsonaro is under strong pressure due to its actions in favor of a policy of deregulation of preservation norms and, mainly, by the advance of deforestation in the Amazon.
After two years of criticism coming primarily from Europe, the situation changed with Biden’s arrival in the White House — his predecessor, Donald Trump, was skeptical of the climate crisis and pulled the country out of the Paris Agreement, for example. Thus, the US joined the European countries and also started to demand commitments and results from Brazil in this area.
The Bolsonaro government even made a gesture in April, during the climate summit led by the US president. At the time, the Brazilian president pledged to end illegal deforestation by 2030 and to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
Bolsonaro, however, frustrated part of the Americans’ expectations by not announcing more ambitious measures. He repeated goals already assumed by the country and the commitment expressed in a letter sent to Biden.
Although it maintained the reduction objective, Brazil changed the baseline for calculating the 2005 emissions, which proved to be superior with the new method. By changing the baseline without adjusting the target, Brazil raises its emissions ceiling until the end of the decade, being able to emit up to 400 million tons of greenhouse gases more than what was foreseen in the previous commitment.
Finally, the difficulties in presenting results in the fight against environmental crimes remain the main obstacle in the relationship between the two countries on environmental issues.
In Monday’s interview, Bolsonaro declared himself an “admirer of the American people.”
Without quoting former President Trump by name, he said he had rooted for the Republican’s reelection.
“I’m an admirer of the American people. I rooted for a president [Trump] as a citizen, logically I cannot meddle in another country’s elections. We have received US government officials in Brazil, they have shown concern with the growth of the left in Brazil and in the world,” he said.
“Brazil is always ready to talk to other countries. The US is a very important country. Before I took office here, previous governments, except for the [do ex-presidente Michel] Fear, they had no sympathy with the American government. So this dialogue was not good. It’s fine with me,” he said.
“We know and keep in touch with the American government about the problems that exist in Latin America; that there is an interest, on the part of the United States, in seeking more and more to preserve or maintain democracy in these countries.”