Author: Jan Rocha

About Jan Rocha

Jan Rocha is a freelance journalist living in Brazil and is a former correspondent there for the BBC World Service and The Guardian.

Brazilian downpours oust familiar drizzle

Misty rain is giving way to fear of flash floods as Brazilian downpours cause chaos in the country’s biggest city.

SÃO PAULO, 19 August, 2017 – Climate change has put an end to the romantic garoa for which São Paulo, South America’s biggest city, was once famous, as fierce Brazilian downpours move in. The gentle misty rain has been replaced by flash floods and violent deluges, with human victims and economic costs.

Less than half a century ago São Paulo’s famous garoa was much used in song and verse to paint an enticing picture of the city. There was even a popular band called the Demons of the Garoa.

Now that gentle rain is just a memory: instead, people frequently run the risk of being trapped in streets suddenly turned into raging torrents; cars are flattened by falling trees; hillside shanty dwellings are swallowed up by mudslides. The city has also got much hotter.

A new study published in the August number of the International Journal of Climatology has confirmed that rainfall patterns in the southeast region of Brazil, where São Paulo is located, have changed substantially.

After analysing meteorological data for the region over the last 74 years, a group of scientists from São Paulo University (USP) found an increase both in the frequency of rainy days and in the volume of rain. Professor (retired) Maria Assunção Faus da Silva Dias, of the Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences at USP, said the aim of their research was to verify if the forecasts about changing rain patterns were becoming a reality.

“We discovered that where it rains a lot it will rain more, and where there is drought there will be more drought”

In previous studies, climatologists had foreseen that one of the main effects of climate change would be the exacerbation of extreme effects, including an increase in the frequency and intensity of storms and severe droughts.

The data they used was extracted from 36 meteorological stations in the southeast of Brazil. They checked the quantity of days without rain, with a small amount (less than 5 mm), or with extreme rain.

“Looking at the pattern of rain in the last decades, we can project tendencies. We discovered that where it rains a lot it will rain more, and where there is drought there will be more drought,” explained Professor Faus da Silva Dias, in further confirmation of a frequently predicted consequence of climate change. 

The team concluded that climate change has altered the rain pattern in the region, with an increase in rainfall in the state of São Paulo and a reduction in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo.

Strong storms

In these two states, located to the northeast of São Paulo on the Atlantic coast, they found a reduction in the frequency of rainy days and in the volume of rain, but a concentration of strong storms in fewer days. Days with light rain were less frequent.

The effects of the changing rain patterns have been felt more in highly urbanised regions, like São Paulo. In the metropolis, home to 20 million people, so-called heat islands have led to a substantial rise in temperatures. Over the last 70 years, the temperature in São Paulo’s urban region has increased by about 4°C (39°F) – equivalent to the forecast global rise for the next century.

Besides putting an end to the garoa, this has contributed to the increase in extreme downpours. The air from the colder regions around the city converges on this heat bubble, provoking intense storms.

According to Professor Faus da Silva Dias there is another factor that could be playing into the change in rainfall patterns. This is an alteration in the Zone of Convergence of the South Atlantic, a band of rainclouds that usually extends from the Amazon to the southeast, reaching the ocean. “One of the hypotheses is that, with climate change, this zone of rain has moved slightly further south”, she says. – Climate News Network

Misty rain is giving way to fear of flash floods as Brazilian downpours cause chaos in the country’s biggest city.

SÃO PAULO, 19 August, 2017 – Climate change has put an end to the romantic garoa for which São Paulo, South America’s biggest city, was once famous, as fierce Brazilian downpours move in. The gentle misty rain has been replaced by flash floods and violent deluges, with human victims and economic costs.

Less than half a century ago São Paulo’s famous garoa was much used in song and verse to paint an enticing picture of the city. There was even a popular band called the Demons of the Garoa.

Now that gentle rain is just a memory: instead, people frequently run the risk of being trapped in streets suddenly turned into raging torrents; cars are flattened by falling trees; hillside shanty dwellings are swallowed up by mudslides. The city has also got much hotter.

A new study published in the August number of the International Journal of Climatology has confirmed that rainfall patterns in the southeast region of Brazil, where São Paulo is located, have changed substantially.

After analysing meteorological data for the region over the last 74 years, a group of scientists from São Paulo University (USP) found an increase both in the frequency of rainy days and in the volume of rain. Professor (retired) Maria Assunção Faus da Silva Dias, of the Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences at USP, said the aim of their research was to verify if the forecasts about changing rain patterns were becoming a reality.

“We discovered that where it rains a lot it will rain more, and where there is drought there will be more drought”

In previous studies, climatologists had foreseen that one of the main effects of climate change would be the exacerbation of extreme effects, including an increase in the frequency and intensity of storms and severe droughts.

The data they used was extracted from 36 meteorological stations in the southeast of Brazil. They checked the quantity of days without rain, with a small amount (less than 5 mm), or with extreme rain.

“Looking at the pattern of rain in the last decades, we can project tendencies. We discovered that where it rains a lot it will rain more, and where there is drought there will be more drought,” explained Professor Faus da Silva Dias, in further confirmation of a frequently predicted consequence of climate change. 

The team concluded that climate change has altered the rain pattern in the region, with an increase in rainfall in the state of São Paulo and a reduction in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo.

Strong storms

In these two states, located to the northeast of São Paulo on the Atlantic coast, they found a reduction in the frequency of rainy days and in the volume of rain, but a concentration of strong storms in fewer days. Days with light rain were less frequent.

The effects of the changing rain patterns have been felt more in highly urbanised regions, like São Paulo. In the metropolis, home to 20 million people, so-called heat islands have led to a substantial rise in temperatures. Over the last 70 years, the temperature in São Paulo’s urban region has increased by about 4°C (39°F) – equivalent to the forecast global rise for the next century.

Besides putting an end to the garoa, this has contributed to the increase in extreme downpours. The air from the colder regions around the city converges on this heat bubble, provoking intense storms.

According to Professor Faus da Silva Dias there is another factor that could be playing into the change in rainfall patterns. This is an alteration in the Zone of Convergence of the South Atlantic, a band of rainclouds that usually extends from the Amazon to the southeast, reaching the ocean. “One of the hypotheses is that, with climate change, this zone of rain has moved slightly further south”, she says. – Climate News Network

Brazil’s environment risks political capsize

A serious political crisis over demands for its president to step down is adding to the threats to Brazil’s environment.

SÃO PAULO, 3 June, 2017 – Brazil faces an unpredictable political crisis as the country’s president fights demands for him to leave office. And as the price of his survival, he is making damaging concessions on Brazil’s environment.

President Michel Temer is facing calls to resign after the owners of Brazil’s biggest meat-packing industry, JBS, alleged he had been involved in bribery and the obstruction of justice.

To retain support in congress, he is now working with the powerful farmers lobby, the bancada ruralista, which wants to reduce conservation areas and weaken environmental licensing laws.

He hopes to cling to power by making concessions to the bancada. In exchange for support from the Parliamentary Agriculture Front (FPA), the bancada’s formal name, he tore up the government’s project for modernising the environmental licensing law, telling lobby members they could present whatever amendments to it they liked.

So a congressional committee is now about to approve a radically different version of the government’s original proposal for a new General Licensing Law.

Licensing discarded

Dubbed “flex licensing”, it dispenses with the need for licences in some of the areas where they are most needed – largescale cattle ranching, mining in protected areas, and even roadbuilding in the Amazon, one of the biggest causes of deforestation. Once past the committee stage, it will be voted into law in a plenary session.

This is a serious blow to the environment minister, José Sarney Filho, who spent a year negotiating a more reasonable version of the bill with environmentalists, farmers and industry.

Nevertheless, he has chosen to remain in the government, although his party, the Greens, together with several other small parties, has decided to abandon the ruling coalition in protest at President Temer’s alleged involvement in corrupt practices.

The minister says he has decided to stay in order to defend the cause of sustainability and the green economy”, and his achievements. These include the suspension of the environmental licensing process which would have allowed the proposed São Luis dam on the Tapajos river, in the Amazon, to go ahead, and incentives for clean and renewable energy sources.   

The political turmoil has left Sarney Filho powerless to stop the tide of anti-conservation legislation being tabled by the farmers’ lobby in their desire to open up to economic exploration previously protected land like indigenous areas and national parks.

“Brazil is undergoing an unprecedented offensive against its protected areas”

In a 2017 report (available only in Portuguese) the Worldwide Fund for Nature, WWF, says there is an imminent risk of Brazil losing up to 80,000 square kms of parks and forests, an area the size of Portugal.

“Brazil is undergoing an unprecedented offensive against its protected areas”, WWF says, with up to 10% of the country’s total protected area under threat.

On 24 May, in the capital, Brasilia, the lower house representatives came to blows over the legitimacy of passing any laws while the scandal involving the president remains unresolved.

In the senate the farmers’ lobby quietly passed  two controversial bills which will reduce the size of two national parks in the Jamanxim river area in the Amazon by almost 600,000 hectares, reckoned as the equivalent of 486,000 soccer fields.

This reduction had been proposed by the government to allow the building of a new railway, Ferrogrão – the Grain Railway– to carry the soya harvest from the huge farms of central Brazil to the Amazon river port of Santarem.

After studies by the government’s environment agency, the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio – Portuguese only) it was decided that an area of 862 ha would be adequate for the railway. But the ruralistas have increased that to a whopping 600,000 ha.

Growing deforestation

They are using the bill to remove protected status from a much wider area so that  it can be used for farming, mining and logging.

They also introduced a clause into the bill, reducing the size of São Joaquim, a national park in the Atlantic Forest, located in the southern state of Santa Catarina, by 20%, although it has nothing to do with the railway. 

The environment minister’s warning that the bills will severely affect the government’s plan to combat deforestation by strengthening conservation areas in the Amazon, not reducing them, was simply ignored. Deforestation is already on the rise, reaching 7,989 sq kms in 2016, the environment ministry says.

The new legislation also completely contradicts Brazil’s Paris Agreement commitments to combat global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Climate scientists also point out that reducing the size of conservation areas will help to dismember the Amazon, transforming it into an archipelago of forest fragments, leaving plant and animal populations more susceptible to extinction.

Ironically it is the ruralistas, the big farmers, who will suffer from lower rainfall in the midwest region – Brazil’s grain basket – more than anyone. – Climate News Network

A serious political crisis over demands for its president to step down is adding to the threats to Brazil’s environment.

SÃO PAULO, 3 June, 2017 – Brazil faces an unpredictable political crisis as the country’s president fights demands for him to leave office. And as the price of his survival, he is making damaging concessions on Brazil’s environment.

President Michel Temer is facing calls to resign after the owners of Brazil’s biggest meat-packing industry, JBS, alleged he had been involved in bribery and the obstruction of justice.

To retain support in congress, he is now working with the powerful farmers lobby, the bancada ruralista, which wants to reduce conservation areas and weaken environmental licensing laws.

He hopes to cling to power by making concessions to the bancada. In exchange for support from the Parliamentary Agriculture Front (FPA), the bancada’s formal name, he tore up the government’s project for modernising the environmental licensing law, telling lobby members they could present whatever amendments to it they liked.

So a congressional committee is now about to approve a radically different version of the government’s original proposal for a new General Licensing Law.

Licensing discarded

Dubbed “flex licensing”, it dispenses with the need for licences in some of the areas where they are most needed – largescale cattle ranching, mining in protected areas, and even roadbuilding in the Amazon, one of the biggest causes of deforestation. Once past the committee stage, it will be voted into law in a plenary session.

This is a serious blow to the environment minister, José Sarney Filho, who spent a year negotiating a more reasonable version of the bill with environmentalists, farmers and industry.

Nevertheless, he has chosen to remain in the government, although his party, the Greens, together with several other small parties, has decided to abandon the ruling coalition in protest at President Temer’s alleged involvement in corrupt practices.

The minister says he has decided to stay in order to defend the cause of sustainability and the green economy”, and his achievements. These include the suspension of the environmental licensing process which would have allowed the proposed São Luis dam on the Tapajos river, in the Amazon, to go ahead, and incentives for clean and renewable energy sources.   

The political turmoil has left Sarney Filho powerless to stop the tide of anti-conservation legislation being tabled by the farmers’ lobby in their desire to open up to economic exploration previously protected land like indigenous areas and national parks.

“Brazil is undergoing an unprecedented offensive against its protected areas”

In a 2017 report (available only in Portuguese) the Worldwide Fund for Nature, WWF, says there is an imminent risk of Brazil losing up to 80,000 square kms of parks and forests, an area the size of Portugal.

“Brazil is undergoing an unprecedented offensive against its protected areas”, WWF says, with up to 10% of the country’s total protected area under threat.

On 24 May, in the capital, Brasilia, the lower house representatives came to blows over the legitimacy of passing any laws while the scandal involving the president remains unresolved.

In the senate the farmers’ lobby quietly passed  two controversial bills which will reduce the size of two national parks in the Jamanxim river area in the Amazon by almost 600,000 hectares, reckoned as the equivalent of 486,000 soccer fields.

This reduction had been proposed by the government to allow the building of a new railway, Ferrogrão – the Grain Railway– to carry the soya harvest from the huge farms of central Brazil to the Amazon river port of Santarem.

After studies by the government’s environment agency, the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio – Portuguese only) it was decided that an area of 862 ha would be adequate for the railway. But the ruralistas have increased that to a whopping 600,000 ha.

Growing deforestation

They are using the bill to remove protected status from a much wider area so that  it can be used for farming, mining and logging.

They also introduced a clause into the bill, reducing the size of São Joaquim, a national park in the Atlantic Forest, located in the southern state of Santa Catarina, by 20%, although it has nothing to do with the railway. 

The environment minister’s warning that the bills will severely affect the government’s plan to combat deforestation by strengthening conservation areas in the Amazon, not reducing them, was simply ignored. Deforestation is already on the rise, reaching 7,989 sq kms in 2016, the environment ministry says.

The new legislation also completely contradicts Brazil’s Paris Agreement commitments to combat global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Climate scientists also point out that reducing the size of conservation areas will help to dismember the Amazon, transforming it into an archipelago of forest fragments, leaving plant and animal populations more susceptible to extinction.

Ironically it is the ruralistas, the big farmers, who will suffer from lower rainfall in the midwest region – Brazil’s grain basket – more than anyone. – Climate News Network

Amazon’s Indians and rainforest under attack

rainforest

Attacks on Amazon Indians and on their land rights are threatening vital areas of rainforest indigenous people have preserved for centuries.

SÃO PAULO, 9 May, 2017 − A recent violent attack on a group of indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest of northern Brazil is seen by environmentalists as a symptom of a new climate of hostility towards such groups, fuelled by conservative congressmen’s attempts to undermine land rights.

As indigenous reserves, which occupy 23% of the greater Amazon region, are spaces where most of the rainforest is still intact, this represents a growing threat to the forest’s future – and therefore could impact on climate change.

The attack, by farmers armed with guns, knives and machetes in the northern state of Maranhão left up to 13 Gamela Indians in hospital with bullet and knife wounds.

The Gamela, who number about 1,200 people, have been occupying cattle farms established on what they claim is their traditional land. In the disputed areas, forest has been cleared and replaced with cattle pasture.

Rainforest preservation

The attack is part of a disturbing trend in Brazil that indirectly threatens the preservation of large areas of the Amazon rainforest.

Satellite maps produced by ISA, an environmental NGO, clearly show the relation between indigenous areas and the preservation of the forest. The Indians preserve the forest because they need its natural resources.

A 2014 study by Imazon, another Brazilian NGO, showed that in the Amazon region indigenous reserves accounted for under 2% of deforestation, while privately-owned areas accounted for 59%. Even in government-run conservation areas it was 27%, because of the frequency of illegal invasions by loggers and farmers.

But by October 2016, satellite images from INPE, the Brazil Space Research Institute, that is responsible for monitoring the Amazon region, showed that deforestation in indigenous reserves had almost tripled, mainly due to illegal logging and invasions. INPE detected an overall increase of almost 30% in deforestation for the region.

A study carried out in 2015 by IPAM, an NGO set up after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to produce scientific knowledge about the Amazon  − found that the indigenous areas, estimated to contain 13 billion tonnes of carbon, will have avoided 431 million tonnes of carbon emissions between 2006 and 2020.

“Forests maintained by the Indians function like
natural air conditioning and as climate
regulators of the region they are in”

In addition to their role in absorbing carbon and their low rates of deforestation, indigenous areas have a healthy effect on their surrounding areas, according to IPAM researcher Paulo Moutinho.

He says: “Forests maintained by the Indians function like natural air conditioning and as climate regulators of the region they are in.”

Yet in spite of the obvious advantages of respecting indigenous areas, not just for their inhabitants but for the whole of Brazil and for the global climate, government and politicians seem more interested in clearing the forest for agricultural and mining projects.

Sonia Guajajara, a co-ordinator at the Network of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil (APIB), says: “Although the whole world is discussing the reduction of deforestation to contain global warming, and Brazil has presented targets for reducing illegal deforestation, we are not even managing to do this. It is very worrying.”

She blames the relaxation of environmental laws, the advance of agribusiness, the building of dams that lead to deforestation of large surrounding areas, and the government`s development policies, as well as an increase in illegal logging in the reserves.

Reducing land rights

In order to free more land for cattle ranchers and soy producers, the powerful landowners’ lobby, which now dominates both the congress and the government, has tabled 189 bills aimed at reducing the land rights and autonomy of indigenous and other traditional communities. Other proposed bills will also relax environmental legislation.

A parliamentary committee of inquiry dominated by the rural lobby has also accused anthropologists and missionaries who work with indigenous groups of being in the pay of foreign interests, and has proposed that Brazil’s Indian affairs agency, Funai, should be closed down.

A peaceful demonstration by more than 3,000 indigenous people from all over Brazil in front of the congress building in Brasilia on 24 April was met with teargas and rubber bullets, and the demonstrators were prevented from entering the Senate to take part in a public hearing.

Funai’s budget has been cut by 44% as part of the government’s austerity programme.

The Minister of Justice, who is responsible for Funai, is reported to have held over 100 meetings with farmers and producers, but none with representatives of Brazil`s indigenous people, who number about 900,000 out of a total population of just over 200 million. The 252 groups speak over 150 languages.

The Amazon contains not only the largest indigenous community, the 50,000 strong Ticuna, but also small groups of “isolated” Indians, who still shun contact with the outside world.

One of Funai’s tasks is to protect these groups from the advance of loggers and miners, but the cuts have led it to close most of its forward posts in the region, leaving up to 5,000 isolated Indians on Brazil`s border with Peru at the mercy of invaders. – Climate News Network

Attacks on Amazon Indians and on their land rights are threatening vital areas of rainforest indigenous people have preserved for centuries.

SÃO PAULO, 9 May, 2017 − A recent violent attack on a group of indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest of northern Brazil is seen by environmentalists as a symptom of a new climate of hostility towards such groups, fuelled by conservative congressmen’s attempts to undermine land rights.

As indigenous reserves, which occupy 23% of the greater Amazon region, are spaces where most of the rainforest is still intact, this represents a growing threat to the forest’s future – and therefore could impact on climate change.

The attack, by farmers armed with guns, knives and machetes in the northern state of Maranhão left up to 13 Gamela Indians in hospital with bullet and knife wounds.

The Gamela, who number about 1,200 people, have been occupying cattle farms established on what they claim is their traditional land. In the disputed areas, forest has been cleared and replaced with cattle pasture.

Rainforest preservation

The attack is part of a disturbing trend in Brazil that indirectly threatens the preservation of large areas of the Amazon rainforest.

Satellite maps produced by ISA, an environmental NGO, clearly show the relation between indigenous areas and the preservation of the forest. The Indians preserve the forest because they need its natural resources.

A 2014 study by Imazon, another Brazilian NGO, showed that in the Amazon region indigenous reserves accounted for under 2% of deforestation, while privately-owned areas accounted for 59%. Even in government-run conservation areas it was 27%, because of the frequency of illegal invasions by loggers and farmers.

But by October 2016, satellite images from INPE, the Brazil Space Research Institute, that is responsible for monitoring the Amazon region, showed that deforestation in indigenous reserves had almost tripled, mainly due to illegal logging and invasions. INPE detected an overall increase of almost 30% in deforestation for the region.

A study carried out in 2015 by IPAM, an NGO set up after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to produce scientific knowledge about the Amazon  − found that the indigenous areas, estimated to contain 13 billion tonnes of carbon, will have avoided 431 million tonnes of carbon emissions between 2006 and 2020.

“Forests maintained by the Indians function like
natural air conditioning and as climate
regulators of the region they are in”

In addition to their role in absorbing carbon and their low rates of deforestation, indigenous areas have a healthy effect on their surrounding areas, according to IPAM researcher Paulo Moutinho.

He says: “Forests maintained by the Indians function like natural air conditioning and as climate regulators of the region they are in.”

Yet in spite of the obvious advantages of respecting indigenous areas, not just for their inhabitants but for the whole of Brazil and for the global climate, government and politicians seem more interested in clearing the forest for agricultural and mining projects.

Sonia Guajajara, a co-ordinator at the Network of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil (APIB), says: “Although the whole world is discussing the reduction of deforestation to contain global warming, and Brazil has presented targets for reducing illegal deforestation, we are not even managing to do this. It is very worrying.”

She blames the relaxation of environmental laws, the advance of agribusiness, the building of dams that lead to deforestation of large surrounding areas, and the government`s development policies, as well as an increase in illegal logging in the reserves.

Reducing land rights

In order to free more land for cattle ranchers and soy producers, the powerful landowners’ lobby, which now dominates both the congress and the government, has tabled 189 bills aimed at reducing the land rights and autonomy of indigenous and other traditional communities. Other proposed bills will also relax environmental legislation.

A parliamentary committee of inquiry dominated by the rural lobby has also accused anthropologists and missionaries who work with indigenous groups of being in the pay of foreign interests, and has proposed that Brazil’s Indian affairs agency, Funai, should be closed down.

A peaceful demonstration by more than 3,000 indigenous people from all over Brazil in front of the congress building in Brasilia on 24 April was met with teargas and rubber bullets, and the demonstrators were prevented from entering the Senate to take part in a public hearing.

Funai’s budget has been cut by 44% as part of the government’s austerity programme.

The Minister of Justice, who is responsible for Funai, is reported to have held over 100 meetings with farmers and producers, but none with representatives of Brazil`s indigenous people, who number about 900,000 out of a total population of just over 200 million. The 252 groups speak over 150 languages.

The Amazon contains not only the largest indigenous community, the 50,000 strong Ticuna, but also small groups of “isolated” Indians, who still shun contact with the outside world.

One of Funai’s tasks is to protect these groups from the advance of loggers and miners, but the cuts have led it to close most of its forward posts in the region, leaving up to 5,000 isolated Indians on Brazil`s border with Peru at the mercy of invaders. – Climate News Network

Brazil slashes environment budget

Brazil Amazon boys road

Drastic cuts to the environment ministry of Brazil and the approval of anti-environment laws will jeopardise the country’s fulfilment of the Paris Agreement targets.

SÃO PAULO, 20 April, 2017 – The Amazon rainforest, so vital to the world’s climate welfare, is said by environmental groups and scientists to be under severe attack from the Brazilian government, which is removing many safeguards to prevent deforestation.

The first shock was the cuts announced by President Michel Temer to the already limited budget of the environment ministry. These will “profoundly prejudice the monitoring of deforestation, and consequently, Brazil’s climate targets”, says Alfredo Sirkis, executive secretary of the FBMC, the National Climate Change Forum, a hybrid body set up in 2000 to bring together government planners and representatives of civil society to inform environmental legislation and raise public awareness.

Government cuts have been imposed on many ministries in order to reduce a growing deficit. Some will lose up to 30% of their budgets, but the environment ministry has been targeted for the biggest cut of all, losing a total of 53% from treasury funding and parliamentary allocations.

Urgent need

This is at a time when the need for environmental monitoring is more urgent than ever, according to green groups. Preliminary data from Brazil’s National Space Research Institute, INPE, shows that the Amazon region saw a 29% increase in forest clearance last year.

The environment ministry’s enforcement agency, IBAMA (the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources), relies on teams of inspectors on the ground to monitor not only the vast Amazon region, but all the other biomes that make up Brazil. These drastic spending cuts will weaken its capacity to carry out inspections, warns the Climate Observatory, an environment group.

As well as investigating and stopping illegal logging and burning operations over vast areas of forest, the ministry’s budget is spent on protecting 326 federal conservation units, which cover 76 million hectares, licensing infrastructure projects, and feeding thousands of animals saved from hunters, poachers and dam construction in rescue centres.

The country, which likes to sell itself to the
world as part of the solution of the climate
crisis, has become a problem again”

While the ministry is being starved of the cash it needs to carry out its constitutional duties, the powerful landowners’ lobby in congress is pushing for a total relaxation of the environmental laws. Claiming the need to speed up the present lengthy process, they want the licensing process devolved to local authorities or even to the construction companies themselves. Critics warn that this could lead to local authorities competing to attract mining and other environmentally damaging projects by offering licensing-free deals.

If the rural producers’ lobby get their way, it would mean that road-building – known to be the main driver of deforestation – could go ahead with no regard for the environmental consequences. This could include the paving of controversial roadways such as the BR-319 (connecting the Amazon capital Manaus with the town of Porto Velho) and the BR-163 (connecting the Mato Grosso capital of Cuiabá with the Amazon river port of Santarém), both of which run through some of the most preserved areas of the Amazon rainforest. At the moment these roads are virtually impassable during the rainy season. Once paved, thousands of lorries will use them to carry the soy harvest north to river ports for shipping to Europe and the US.

Brazil climate targets

In a hard-hitting document, the Climate Observatory warns that the government and its parliamentary allies are promoting what may be the wors`t anti-environmental offensive since the 1980s. It states: “This puts at risk Brazil’s climate targets, besides the security of our entire society.”

Among the reversals of recent months, it lists the reduction in the size of several conservation units in the Amazon, the threat to indigenous reserves by the choice of a blatantly anti-indigenous Minister of Justice, Osmar Serraglio – who even questioned the Indians’ need for land – the privatisation of public lands and the end of environmental licensing.

The report concludes that Brazil risks rolling back its achievements of the last two decades in fighting deforestation, recognising indigenous lands and creating conservation units, and returning to the 1980s when it was viewed as “an international pariah” because of the accelerating clearing of the Amazon rainforest. It says: “The country, which likes to sell itself to the world as part of the solution of the climate crisis, has become a problem again.” – Climate News Network

Drastic cuts to the environment ministry of Brazil and the approval of anti-environment laws will jeopardise the country’s fulfilment of the Paris Agreement targets.

SÃO PAULO, 20 April, 2017 – The Amazon rainforest, so vital to the world’s climate welfare, is said by environmental groups and scientists to be under severe attack from the Brazilian government, which is removing many safeguards to prevent deforestation.

The first shock was the cuts announced by President Michel Temer to the already limited budget of the environment ministry. These will “profoundly prejudice the monitoring of deforestation, and consequently, Brazil’s climate targets”, says Alfredo Sirkis, executive secretary of the FBMC, the National Climate Change Forum, a hybrid body set up in 2000 to bring together government planners and representatives of civil society to inform environmental legislation and raise public awareness.

Government cuts have been imposed on many ministries in order to reduce a growing deficit. Some will lose up to 30% of their budgets, but the environment ministry has been targeted for the biggest cut of all, losing a total of 53% from treasury funding and parliamentary allocations.

Urgent need

This is at a time when the need for environmental monitoring is more urgent than ever, according to green groups. Preliminary data from Brazil’s National Space Research Institute, INPE, shows that the Amazon region saw a 29% increase in forest clearance last year.

The environment ministry’s enforcement agency, IBAMA (the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources), relies on teams of inspectors on the ground to monitor not only the vast Amazon region, but all the other biomes that make up Brazil. These drastic spending cuts will weaken its capacity to carry out inspections, warns the Climate Observatory, an environment group.

As well as investigating and stopping illegal logging and burning operations over vast areas of forest, the ministry’s budget is spent on protecting 326 federal conservation units, which cover 76 million hectares, licensing infrastructure projects, and feeding thousands of animals saved from hunters, poachers and dam construction in rescue centres.

The country, which likes to sell itself to the
world as part of the solution of the climate
crisis, has become a problem again”

While the ministry is being starved of the cash it needs to carry out its constitutional duties, the powerful landowners’ lobby in congress is pushing for a total relaxation of the environmental laws. Claiming the need to speed up the present lengthy process, they want the licensing process devolved to local authorities or even to the construction companies themselves. Critics warn that this could lead to local authorities competing to attract mining and other environmentally damaging projects by offering licensing-free deals.

If the rural producers’ lobby get their way, it would mean that road-building – known to be the main driver of deforestation – could go ahead with no regard for the environmental consequences. This could include the paving of controversial roadways such as the BR-319 (connecting the Amazon capital Manaus with the town of Porto Velho) and the BR-163 (connecting the Mato Grosso capital of Cuiabá with the Amazon river port of Santarém), both of which run through some of the most preserved areas of the Amazon rainforest. At the moment these roads are virtually impassable during the rainy season. Once paved, thousands of lorries will use them to carry the soy harvest north to river ports for shipping to Europe and the US.

Brazil climate targets

In a hard-hitting document, the Climate Observatory warns that the government and its parliamentary allies are promoting what may be the wors`t anti-environmental offensive since the 1980s. It states: “This puts at risk Brazil’s climate targets, besides the security of our entire society.”

Among the reversals of recent months, it lists the reduction in the size of several conservation units in the Amazon, the threat to indigenous reserves by the choice of a blatantly anti-indigenous Minister of Justice, Osmar Serraglio – who even questioned the Indians’ need for land – the privatisation of public lands and the end of environmental licensing.

The report concludes that Brazil risks rolling back its achievements of the last two decades in fighting deforestation, recognising indigenous lands and creating conservation units, and returning to the 1980s when it was viewed as “an international pariah” because of the accelerating clearing of the Amazon rainforest. It says: “The country, which likes to sell itself to the world as part of the solution of the climate crisis, has become a problem again.” – Climate News Network

Brazil monkey deaths signal spread of viruses

monkeys and viruses

Climate change and deforestation in Brazil help mosquitoes spread viruses to humans and endangered species of monkeys.

SÃO PAULO, 4 April, 2017 – Scientists in Brazil believe that global warming and climate change have created conditions that favour the reproduction of the mosquitoes that transmit viruses such as yellow fever, now spreading through previously immune regions of Brazil.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that an increase of 4°C in mean annual temperatures is possible in these south and central regions because of warming caused by carbon dioxide concentrations.

The yellow fever virus can be transmitted to humans and to monkeys, and thousands of monkeys − some from endangered species − have died in the last four months.

Most of the deaths have been caused by the virus, but some monkeys have been shot or clubbed to death by Brazilians who erroneously believe that they, and not the mosquitoes, are responsible for transmitting the virus to humans.

The woolly spider monkey (muriqui), and the brown howler monkey (bugio) are the species most affected.

Sérgio Lucena, a primatologist and zoology professor at the Federal University of Espírito Santo, says that, in fact, monkeys are sentinels because they die before humans. “If the virus begins to propagate in a determined area, the death of monkeys sends us a warning.”

Encourage viruses

Since January, the yellow fever virus has claimed nearly 2,000 human victims, 300 of them fatal, in a region of Brazil where it had been eliminated in the 1940s.

The epidemic began in the state of Minas Gerais last December, and since then it has spread to the neighbouring states of Espirito Santo, Rio, São Paulo and Bahia. Vaccination campaigns are now under way.

The virus, which is transmitted by the haemagogus mosquito, is normally confined to the tropical regions in the north of Brazil.

José Cássio de Moraes, an epidemiologist at the Santa Casa hospital in São Paulo, says that intense deforestation, the chaotic urbanisation of rural areas and climate change have worked together to encourage the spread of viruses such as yellow fever − not only in Brazil, but in many other countries.

“Changes in ecosystems, global warming, intense rains, heat – all this facilitates the spread of disease by vectors [disease transmitters].”

“When the trees are destroyed and another primate,
the human being, appears, this haemogogus
mosquito will substitute the man for the monkey”

So far, the cases in the southeast region of Brazil have occurred in rural areas with woods and forests. But officials are worried because many of these areas are not far from major urban centres such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Tens of millions of people live in these areas, where the city-dwelling aedes aegypti mosquitoes could start the spread of the disease in a human-to-human cycle, according to Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

These mosquitoes are already responsible for the transmission of the dengue, Zika and chikungunya viruses, which have claimed thousands of victims in Brazil in the last few years.

Although there is a highly effective vaccine for yellow fever, it is not routinely given in the major urban centres.

Sérgio Lucena is one of a group of scientists in Brazil who have begun to study the relationship between the present epidemic and the degradation of the environment.

Fragments of forest

He explains: “Monkeys live in the canopies of the trees. The cycle is restricted to there. But when the trees are destroyed and another primate, the human being, appears, this haemogogus mosquito will substitute the man for the monkey.”

Over the years, deforestation has left different species of monkey surviving in very small fragments of forest, and Lucena says: “Impoverished ecological systems can favour the growth of mosquito populations.”

When virus-carrying mosquitoes find large populations of monkeys in isolated areas of the Atlantic Forest  − which once covered the entire eastern coastline of Brazil, but is now reduced to under 10% of its original size − they thrive. And when there are no more monkeys to infect, they turn to other victims – humans.

Deforestation also impoverishes the surviving forest. Where there is plenty of fruit and shade, without pollution, the monkeys are healthier, stress-free, with a more efficient immune system, and better able to resist viruses.

Dr Moraes warns that if the continuing worldwide urban expansion into rural areas is not controlled, the changes could bring not only an increase in cases of yellow fever but also of other diseases transmitted by vectors, such as leishmaniasis and malaria. – Climate News Network

Climate change and deforestation in Brazil help mosquitoes spread viruses to humans and endangered species of monkeys.

SÃO PAULO, 4 April, 2017 – Scientists in Brazil believe that global warming and climate change have created conditions that favour the reproduction of the mosquitoes that transmit viruses such as yellow fever, now spreading through previously immune regions of Brazil.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that an increase of 4°C in mean annual temperatures is possible in these south and central regions because of warming caused by carbon dioxide concentrations.

The yellow fever virus can be transmitted to humans and to monkeys, and thousands of monkeys − some from endangered species − have died in the last four months.

Most of the deaths have been caused by the virus, but some monkeys have been shot or clubbed to death by Brazilians who erroneously believe that they, and not the mosquitoes, are responsible for transmitting the virus to humans.

The woolly spider monkey (muriqui), and the brown howler monkey (bugio) are the species most affected.

Sérgio Lucena, a primatologist and zoology professor at the Federal University of Espírito Santo, says that, in fact, monkeys are sentinels because they die before humans. “If the virus begins to propagate in a determined area, the death of monkeys sends us a warning.”

Encourage viruses

Since January, the yellow fever virus has claimed nearly 2,000 human victims, 300 of them fatal, in a region of Brazil where it had been eliminated in the 1940s.

The epidemic began in the state of Minas Gerais last December, and since then it has spread to the neighbouring states of Espirito Santo, Rio, São Paulo and Bahia. Vaccination campaigns are now under way.

The virus, which is transmitted by the haemagogus mosquito, is normally confined to the tropical regions in the north of Brazil.

José Cássio de Moraes, an epidemiologist at the Santa Casa hospital in São Paulo, says that intense deforestation, the chaotic urbanisation of rural areas and climate change have worked together to encourage the spread of viruses such as yellow fever − not only in Brazil, but in many other countries.

“Changes in ecosystems, global warming, intense rains, heat – all this facilitates the spread of disease by vectors [disease transmitters].”

“When the trees are destroyed and another primate,
the human being, appears, this haemogogus
mosquito will substitute the man for the monkey”

So far, the cases in the southeast region of Brazil have occurred in rural areas with woods and forests. But officials are worried because many of these areas are not far from major urban centres such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Tens of millions of people live in these areas, where the city-dwelling aedes aegypti mosquitoes could start the spread of the disease in a human-to-human cycle, according to Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

These mosquitoes are already responsible for the transmission of the dengue, Zika and chikungunya viruses, which have claimed thousands of victims in Brazil in the last few years.

Although there is a highly effective vaccine for yellow fever, it is not routinely given in the major urban centres.

Sérgio Lucena is one of a group of scientists in Brazil who have begun to study the relationship between the present epidemic and the degradation of the environment.

Fragments of forest

He explains: “Monkeys live in the canopies of the trees. The cycle is restricted to there. But when the trees are destroyed and another primate, the human being, appears, this haemogogus mosquito will substitute the man for the monkey.”

Over the years, deforestation has left different species of monkey surviving in very small fragments of forest, and Lucena says: “Impoverished ecological systems can favour the growth of mosquito populations.”

When virus-carrying mosquitoes find large populations of monkeys in isolated areas of the Atlantic Forest  − which once covered the entire eastern coastline of Brazil, but is now reduced to under 10% of its original size − they thrive. And when there are no more monkeys to infect, they turn to other victims – humans.

Deforestation also impoverishes the surviving forest. Where there is plenty of fruit and shade, without pollution, the monkeys are healthier, stress-free, with a more efficient immune system, and better able to resist viruses.

Dr Moraes warns that if the continuing worldwide urban expansion into rural areas is not controlled, the changes could bring not only an increase in cases of yellow fever but also of other diseases transmitted by vectors, such as leishmaniasis and malaria. – Climate News Network

Clean energy comes home to the Amazon

Amazon

The irony of the Amazon, the lungs of the world, being choked by smoke from diesel-powered generators may soon be at an end, as Brazil plans to develop the use of renewable energy in the region.

SÃO PAULO, 26 March, 2017 – In the small towns and villages of the Amazon there is a sound that is as familiar as the calls of the birds and monkeys in the forest: the non-stop throbbing of diesel-powered generators that provide the energy for lights, fridges, TVs and every other piece of electrical equipment.

Although the Amazon region is home to dozens of big hydroelectric dams, their energy is sent thousands of miles south to power the homes and factories in the big cities, or to feed electricity-intensive industries, many of them foreign-owned aluminium smelters.

Very little of it stays within the region which generates it. Instead the seven states that make up Brazil’s huge Amazon region rely on diesel-fuelled power plants, which together emit annually 6 million tons of CO2, double the emissions produced by vehicles in São Paulo, the country’s biggest city.

Paris Agreement

Now the government has finally begun to tackle the problem, spurred on by the need to meet its Paris Agreement targets.

The environment minister, José Sarney Filho, says: “We took on ambitious targets under the Paris Agreement, and to meet them we need to expand the use of renewable sources of energy.”

The first step is a programme to provide alternative energy sources for 55 towns with a combined population of about half a million people, replacing 255 diesel plants with ones using renewable energy.

“Little by little, we will bring cleaner energy
to the region”

Bids have been invited for an energy auction, to be held in May, and 54 have already been submitted. Solar, wind and any other renewable fuels are all eligible. Successful bids will receive subsidised loans from Brazil’s development bank, the BNDES, which has stopped funding coal- and oil-fuelled plants and switched to renewables.

Fernando Coelho Filho, Brazil’s energy minister, expressed confidence that  “little by little, we will bring cleaner energy to the region … we have begun an inversion of the curve of fossil fuel polluting systems”.

Dirty and costly

Not only does Amazonia have the dirtiest energy production in a country where most energy comes from hydroelectricity, it also has the most expensive. Its high electricity bills are partly subsidised by a tax on all Brazilian consumers.

One of the reasons is the high cost of diesel fuel, which has to be transported 4,000 miles round the Brazilian coast from refineries in Rio de Janeiro and then up the Amazon to the port at Manaus, the region’s capital. Five large tankers make the trip each month.

From Manaus, a fleet of 200 rafts and 500 lorries distribute the diesel throughout the region, putting the rivers at risk of pollution from leaks and accidents.

Both industrialists and environmentalists welcomed the news. For local industrialists, like Ronaldo Mota, director of the confederation of industry in the state of Amazonas, thermal plants are unreliable, with power levels oscillating throughout the day and sometimes failing altogether, a costly problem for factories.

For environmentalists like Paulo Moutinho, of IPAM, the Amazon Environmental Research Institute, “any energy based on burning fossil fuels is potentially damaging to the environment, not only locally with smoke and soot, but globally with GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions”. – Climate News Network

The irony of the Amazon, the lungs of the world, being choked by smoke from diesel-powered generators may soon be at an end, as Brazil plans to develop the use of renewable energy in the region.

SÃO PAULO, 26 March, 2017 – In the small towns and villages of the Amazon there is a sound that is as familiar as the calls of the birds and monkeys in the forest: the non-stop throbbing of diesel-powered generators that provide the energy for lights, fridges, TVs and every other piece of electrical equipment.

Although the Amazon region is home to dozens of big hydroelectric dams, their energy is sent thousands of miles south to power the homes and factories in the big cities, or to feed electricity-intensive industries, many of them foreign-owned aluminium smelters.

Very little of it stays within the region which generates it. Instead the seven states that make up Brazil’s huge Amazon region rely on diesel-fuelled power plants, which together emit annually 6 million tons of CO2, double the emissions produced by vehicles in São Paulo, the country’s biggest city.

Paris Agreement

Now the government has finally begun to tackle the problem, spurred on by the need to meet its Paris Agreement targets.

The environment minister, José Sarney Filho, says: “We took on ambitious targets under the Paris Agreement, and to meet them we need to expand the use of renewable sources of energy.”

The first step is a programme to provide alternative energy sources for 55 towns with a combined population of about half a million people, replacing 255 diesel plants with ones using renewable energy.

“Little by little, we will bring cleaner energy
to the region”

Bids have been invited for an energy auction, to be held in May, and 54 have already been submitted. Solar, wind and any other renewable fuels are all eligible. Successful bids will receive subsidised loans from Brazil’s development bank, the BNDES, which has stopped funding coal- and oil-fuelled plants and switched to renewables.

Fernando Coelho Filho, Brazil’s energy minister, expressed confidence that  “little by little, we will bring cleaner energy to the region … we have begun an inversion of the curve of fossil fuel polluting systems”.

Dirty and costly

Not only does Amazonia have the dirtiest energy production in a country where most energy comes from hydroelectricity, it also has the most expensive. Its high electricity bills are partly subsidised by a tax on all Brazilian consumers.

One of the reasons is the high cost of diesel fuel, which has to be transported 4,000 miles round the Brazilian coast from refineries in Rio de Janeiro and then up the Amazon to the port at Manaus, the region’s capital. Five large tankers make the trip each month.

From Manaus, a fleet of 200 rafts and 500 lorries distribute the diesel throughout the region, putting the rivers at risk of pollution from leaks and accidents.

Both industrialists and environmentalists welcomed the news. For local industrialists, like Ronaldo Mota, director of the confederation of industry in the state of Amazonas, thermal plants are unreliable, with power levels oscillating throughout the day and sometimes failing altogether, a costly problem for factories.

For environmentalists like Paulo Moutinho, of IPAM, the Amazon Environmental Research Institute, “any energy based on burning fossil fuels is potentially damaging to the environment, not only locally with smoke and soot, but globally with GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions”. – Climate News Network

Legislators attempt to mine Amazon’s riches

Amazon rainforest trees

WWF-Brazil fears that a bill to open up more than 1 million hectares of protected Amazon rainforest aims to facilitate industrial mining in the region.

SÃO PAULO, 2 March, 2017 – Environment campaigners in Brazil say attempts by legislators to reduce the extent of protected land in Amazonia are driven by a determination to exploit the regions mineral wealth.

They fear that a bill about to be introduced in the national congress that proposes cutting conservation areas in the south of the Amazon region is designed to help the parliamentarians to develop its resources, which include gold, iron ore, cassiterite (the main tin-bearing ore) and niobium (a metal used in many alloys).

If the bill passes, more than 1 million hectares of protected rainforest will be opened up. Four recently created conservation areas will lose 40% of their combined size, down from 2.8m ha at present to 1.8m ha, and one will disappear altogether.

Amazon deforestation

Ricardo Mello is coordinator of the Amazonia programme at WWF-Brazil. He says reducing the green belt that the protected areas provide will jeopardise attempts to slow deforestation in southern Amazonia, kill wild species, cut water resources and increase the greenhouse gas emissions that drive global warming.

Brazils environment minister José Sarney Filho is responsible for protected areas, but he was not consulted by the congressmen, who are all from the state of Amazonas. They went instead to Eliseu Padilha, chief of staff to President Michel Temer and the second most powerful man in the Brazilian government, to get approval for their move.

Padilha himself is accused by public prosecutors of illegally deforesting more than 700 hectares within a protected area in the state of Mato Grosso.

WWF-Brazil says the areas in Amazonia earmarked to lose their protected status are not coincidentally the location of 155 mining claims that have already been registered with the countrys mining department (DNPM).

Most of the claims are for areas in two national forests, Urupadi and Aripuanã, which would together lose approximately 820,000 hectares. Of the claims, 80% are for industrial goldmining.

The countrys main contribution to the reduction
of climate change, under the Paris Agreement,
is its target of cutting back deforestation. Reducing
the area of protected forest to benefit private interests
directly contradicts this, WWF says

Apart from damaging the environment, WWF says the bid to open protected areas to mining opposes the direction of local development in the Amazon. “It will leave a trail of deterioration in the conditions of the local population, with violence, human exploitation, prostitution, land conflicts, the violation of indigenous rights, and the contamination of water and food,” says WWF.

Conservationists say the standing forest benefits the Amazon economy far more than logging and mining. They want proposals for development based on forest products to be debated with local communities by the politicians, instead of a bill that could set off a gold rush and would benefit only a handful of people, including the legislators themselves.

Congressional approval of the bill would also send the wrong signal to the other states in the Amazon region, that control over deforestation is being relaxed, WWF says, and that would compromise Brazil’s international commitments on climate and biodiversity.

The countrys main contribution to the reduction of climate change, under the Paris Agreement, is its target of cutting back deforestation. Reducing the area of protected forest to benefit private interests directly contradicts this, WWF says.

It is not only the congressmen’s initiative that seeks to exploit Amazonias minerals. The federal government is also proposing a new general mining law that would open up 10% of all national parks and conservation areas to mining, comprehensively weakening its own aim of protecting biodiversity, water sources and other environmental benefits.

Mining can alter river courses, contaminate water and destroy primary forests. And mining projects do not happen in isolation. They involve access, and therefore the building of roads. Once there are roads, loggers, ranchers and farmers follow, and deforestation ensues.

Beyond Brazil

The impact of the proposed mining may not be limited to Amazonia alone. Scientists from Brazil, France and Germany have produced evidence showing that Amazon deforestation is affecting the climate beyond Brazil’s frontiers.

Writing in the Scientific Reports journal, the scientists, from Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and Brazil’s University of São Paulo, say the deforestation of 700,000 sq km in the Brazilian Amazon has destabilised rainfall and caused droughts in the country.

Henrique Barbosa, a co-author, says their work also shows the effects of deforestation on the emission and retention of gases and the evapotranspiration that is responsible for the rains that fall on both the Amazon and other regions. Climate News Network

WWF-Brazil fears that a bill to open up more than 1 million hectares of protected Amazon rainforest aims to facilitate industrial mining in the region.

SÃO PAULO, 2 March, 2017 – Environment campaigners in Brazil say attempts by legislators to reduce the extent of protected land in Amazonia are driven by a determination to exploit the regions mineral wealth.

They fear that a bill about to be introduced in the national congress that proposes cutting conservation areas in the south of the Amazon region is designed to help the parliamentarians to develop its resources, which include gold, iron ore, cassiterite (the main tin-bearing ore) and niobium (a metal used in many alloys).

If the bill passes, more than 1 million hectares of protected rainforest will be opened up. Four recently created conservation areas will lose 40% of their combined size, down from 2.8m ha at present to 1.8m ha, and one will disappear altogether.

Amazon deforestation

Ricardo Mello is coordinator of the Amazonia programme at WWF-Brazil. He says reducing the green belt that the protected areas provide will jeopardise attempts to slow deforestation in southern Amazonia, kill wild species, cut water resources and increase the greenhouse gas emissions that drive global warming.

Brazils environment minister José Sarney Filho is responsible for protected areas, but he was not consulted by the congressmen, who are all from the state of Amazonas. They went instead to Eliseu Padilha, chief of staff to President Michel Temer and the second most powerful man in the Brazilian government, to get approval for their move.

Padilha himself is accused by public prosecutors of illegally deforesting more than 700 hectares within a protected area in the state of Mato Grosso.

WWF-Brazil says the areas in Amazonia earmarked to lose their protected status are not coincidentally the location of 155 mining claims that have already been registered with the countrys mining department (DNPM).

Most of the claims are for areas in two national forests, Urupadi and Aripuanã, which would together lose approximately 820,000 hectares. Of the claims, 80% are for industrial goldmining.

The countrys main contribution to the reduction
of climate change, under the Paris Agreement,
is its target of cutting back deforestation. Reducing
the area of protected forest to benefit private interests
directly contradicts this, WWF says

Apart from damaging the environment, WWF says the bid to open protected areas to mining opposes the direction of local development in the Amazon. “It will leave a trail of deterioration in the conditions of the local population, with violence, human exploitation, prostitution, land conflicts, the violation of indigenous rights, and the contamination of water and food,” says WWF.

Conservationists say the standing forest benefits the Amazon economy far more than logging and mining. They want proposals for development based on forest products to be debated with local communities by the politicians, instead of a bill that could set off a gold rush and would benefit only a handful of people, including the legislators themselves.

Congressional approval of the bill would also send the wrong signal to the other states in the Amazon region, that control over deforestation is being relaxed, WWF says, and that would compromise Brazil’s international commitments on climate and biodiversity.

The countrys main contribution to the reduction of climate change, under the Paris Agreement, is its target of cutting back deforestation. Reducing the area of protected forest to benefit private interests directly contradicts this, WWF says.

It is not only the congressmen’s initiative that seeks to exploit Amazonias minerals. The federal government is also proposing a new general mining law that would open up 10% of all national parks and conservation areas to mining, comprehensively weakening its own aim of protecting biodiversity, water sources and other environmental benefits.

Mining can alter river courses, contaminate water and destroy primary forests. And mining projects do not happen in isolation. They involve access, and therefore the building of roads. Once there are roads, loggers, ranchers and farmers follow, and deforestation ensues.

Beyond Brazil

The impact of the proposed mining may not be limited to Amazonia alone. Scientists from Brazil, France and Germany have produced evidence showing that Amazon deforestation is affecting the climate beyond Brazil’s frontiers.

Writing in the Scientific Reports journal, the scientists, from Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and Brazil’s University of São Paulo, say the deforestation of 700,000 sq km in the Brazilian Amazon has destabilised rainfall and caused droughts in the country.

Henrique Barbosa, a co-author, says their work also shows the effects of deforestation on the emission and retention of gases and the evapotranspiration that is responsible for the rains that fall on both the Amazon and other regions. Climate News Network

Samba drums up opposition to factory farming

factory farming rio carnival

A musical protest at the Rio carnival will stress the damaging impacts of factory farming on indigenous people and on global warming.

RIO DE JANEIRO, 16 February, 2017 – Concern about the environmental impact of industrialised farming through the use of pesticides and the destruction of the rainforest has even spread to Brazil’s famous Rio carnival.

One of the most famous samba schools, Imperatriz Leopoldinese, will take part later this month in the all-night parade in Rio de Janeiro, singing and dancing to highlight the plight of the Amazon’s indigenous Xingu population, whose reserve is now completely surrounded by cattle and soy fields.

The musical protest has aroused a furious response from the agribusiness lobby, which has accused the sambistas of denigrating their efforts to feed the population.

But the samba school’s concern is echoed in a report that spells out the negative consequences of industrial food production, both on the environment and on people’s health.

The report is published by GRAIN, an international not-for-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems.

Factory farming subsidies

It argues that factory farming is promoted by the industrial meat lobby, corporate subsidies and free trade agreements, and it recommends instead small-scale mixed farms.

The obvious solution is to cut meat consumption in rich countries. The US and Australia eat 90 kg per person per year, Europeans average 65 kg, and in China − where fast-food restaurants, meat imports and factory farming are rapidly expanding − it has reached 58 kg.

In stark contrast, meat consumption in India is 3kg per person and in Ethiopia it is 4kg.

This reduction in meat eating would not only help to fight climate change by reducing emissions, it would also greatly reduce some cancers and heart and lung disease and, some scientists say, cut infectious disease and reduce the emergence of antibiotic resistance.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says that greenhouse gas emissions from industrial meat production are now higher than those of all transport systems combined.

“The food system is responsible for up to 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions,” the GRAIN report says. “Some of these emissions are due to the growth of packaged and frozen foods, the increased distance foods are shipped, and the rise in food waste.

“The US, Europe and other wealthy countries
have subsidised industrial meat and dairy
production for decades”

“But the most important source of food system-related GHG emissions is the escalation of meat and dairy consumption – made possible by the expansion of industrial livestock and chemical-intensive feeds.”

A fall in meat eating need not harm the world’s small farmers and pastoralists. There are an estimated 630 million small farmers practising low-emission mixed farming, plus 200 million herders who often graze their animals in areas where crops cannot be grown.

They live in the global south, where meat and dairy consumption in most countries – but not middle income countries such as Argentina and Brazil – is at sustainable levels.

And they contribute little to climate change, recycling animal waste and crop residues and using their livestock for many purposes, such as traction, energy, labour, hide and cash.

“Small-scale livestock production also enhances family nutrition, giving people access to both animal-based and plant-based foods,” the GRAIN report says. “In these systems, livestock is an essential part of people’s livelihoods, food security and health, as well as an integral part of cultural and religious traditions.”

Other advantages of cutting meat consumption would be to lower the production of methane − a major greenhouse gas (GHG) − from livestock, and reduce food waste, which generates about 4.4 gigatonnes of GHG emissions each year.

Although meat accounts for less than 4% of food waste by weight, it accounts for 20% of the global carbon footprint of food waste.

Agro-ecological production

The solution, GRAIN argues, is to stop supporting the production and consumption of cheap industrial meat and dairy and instead to support small-scale, local agro-ecological production.

In 2013, OECD countries distributed US$53 billion in subsidies to livestock producers, with the EU paying US$731 million to its cattle industry alone. In the same year, the US Department of Agriculture paid more than US$500 million to just 62 producers supplying meat and dairy products in school meals, but only a fraction of that to fruit and vegetable suppliers.

“The US, Europe and other wealthy countries have subsidised industrial meat and dairy production for decades,” GRAIN says. “These countries’ policies have generated astronomical profits for corporations, and have eroded the health of their citizens while worsening the climate.”

International trade deals such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) favour international corporations, and would even make local preferences illegal and subject to harsh penalties.

Yet going local, GRAIN insists, is at the very heart of commonsense strategies to reverse climate change by addressing the ways in which we produce, distribute and access food. – Climate News Network

A musical protest at the Rio carnival will stress the damaging impacts of factory farming on indigenous people and on global warming.

RIO DE JANEIRO, 16 February, 2017 – Concern about the environmental impact of industrialised farming through the use of pesticides and the destruction of the rainforest has even spread to Brazil’s famous Rio carnival.

One of the most famous samba schools, Imperatriz Leopoldinese, will take part later this month in the all-night parade in Rio de Janeiro, singing and dancing to highlight the plight of the Amazon’s indigenous Xingu population, whose reserve is now completely surrounded by cattle and soy fields.

The musical protest has aroused a furious response from the agribusiness lobby, which has accused the sambistas of denigrating their efforts to feed the population.

But the samba school’s concern is echoed in a report that spells out the negative consequences of industrial food production, both on the environment and on people’s health.

The report is published by GRAIN, an international not-for-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems.

Factory farming subsidies

It argues that factory farming is promoted by the industrial meat lobby, corporate subsidies and free trade agreements, and it recommends instead small-scale mixed farms.

The obvious solution is to cut meat consumption in rich countries. The US and Australia eat 90 kg per person per year, Europeans average 65 kg, and in China − where fast-food restaurants, meat imports and factory farming are rapidly expanding − it has reached 58 kg.

In stark contrast, meat consumption in India is 3kg per person and in Ethiopia it is 4kg.

This reduction in meat eating would not only help to fight climate change by reducing emissions, it would also greatly reduce some cancers and heart and lung disease and, some scientists say, cut infectious disease and reduce the emergence of antibiotic resistance.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says that greenhouse gas emissions from industrial meat production are now higher than those of all transport systems combined.

“The food system is responsible for up to 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions,” the GRAIN report says. “Some of these emissions are due to the growth of packaged and frozen foods, the increased distance foods are shipped, and the rise in food waste.

“The US, Europe and other wealthy countries
have subsidised industrial meat and dairy
production for decades”

“But the most important source of food system-related GHG emissions is the escalation of meat and dairy consumption – made possible by the expansion of industrial livestock and chemical-intensive feeds.”

A fall in meat eating need not harm the world’s small farmers and pastoralists. There are an estimated 630 million small farmers practising low-emission mixed farming, plus 200 million herders who often graze their animals in areas where crops cannot be grown.

They live in the global south, where meat and dairy consumption in most countries – but not middle income countries such as Argentina and Brazil – is at sustainable levels.

And they contribute little to climate change, recycling animal waste and crop residues and using their livestock for many purposes, such as traction, energy, labour, hide and cash.

“Small-scale livestock production also enhances family nutrition, giving people access to both animal-based and plant-based foods,” the GRAIN report says. “In these systems, livestock is an essential part of people’s livelihoods, food security and health, as well as an integral part of cultural and religious traditions.”

Other advantages of cutting meat consumption would be to lower the production of methane − a major greenhouse gas (GHG) − from livestock, and reduce food waste, which generates about 4.4 gigatonnes of GHG emissions each year.

Although meat accounts for less than 4% of food waste by weight, it accounts for 20% of the global carbon footprint of food waste.

Agro-ecological production

The solution, GRAIN argues, is to stop supporting the production and consumption of cheap industrial meat and dairy and instead to support small-scale, local agro-ecological production.

In 2013, OECD countries distributed US$53 billion in subsidies to livestock producers, with the EU paying US$731 million to its cattle industry alone. In the same year, the US Department of Agriculture paid more than US$500 million to just 62 producers supplying meat and dairy products in school meals, but only a fraction of that to fruit and vegetable suppliers.

“The US, Europe and other wealthy countries have subsidised industrial meat and dairy production for decades,” GRAIN says. “These countries’ policies have generated astronomical profits for corporations, and have eroded the health of their citizens while worsening the climate.”

International trade deals such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) favour international corporations, and would even make local preferences illegal and subject to harsh penalties.

Yet going local, GRAIN insists, is at the very heart of commonsense strategies to reverse climate change by addressing the ways in which we produce, distribute and access food. – Climate News Network

Forest fires cause national emergency in Chile

Chile fires

Almost a quarter of a million square miles of forest have been destroyed as fires rage out of control across central and southern Chile.

SÃO PAULO, 3 February, 2017 Chile is fighting the worst wildfires in its history. Government officials blame both climate change and human action for the blazes. A decade-long drought has left the South American country tinder-dry and, together with higher than average temperatures, made it easy for the fires to spread. Forty-three people have been arrested and accused of arson.

Forest fires are a regular feature of the hot, dry Chilean summers, which last from December to February, but this years fires have devastated almost a quarter of a million square miles, leading to President Michelle Bachelet declaring a national emergency. “We have never seen anything on this scale in the history of Chile,” she said.

Flammable forests

In addition to local weather patterns, shaped by climate change, a review of Chiles wildfires published in the Global and Planetary Change journal warned that the “pattern, frequency and intensity” of wildfires in the country “has grown at an alarming rate in recent years, partly because of intensive forest management practices that have led to a large amount of flammable fuel in the countrys forests.

In the last few decades, closely planted eucalyptus and pine plantations have covered much of what was previously farmland or native forest. The native forests, with their undergrowth and biodiversity, enjoy much higher humidity, but the commercial forests tend to be dry.

Fire chiefs also blame a lack of fire prevention planning, including failure to provide fire breaks.

This is a horror, a nightmare without end.
Everything has burned”

The worst hit areas are the centre and south of Chile, which is a long, thin country, squeezed between the Andes mountains and the Pacific ocean. The capital, Santiago, is now wreathed in smoke, and images from NASA’s Earth Observatory also show big clouds of smoke covering most of the centre of the country.

So far, 11 people, including several firefighters, have died, thousands have been evacuated and entire towns have been consumed by the flames. Some of the vineyards in the Central Valley, home to many of Chile’s best known wines, have been badly damaged.

More than 11,000 firefighters, including police, military, and civilian personnel and volunteers, are fighting the flames. Other Latin American countries have sent teams and equipment. Temperatures of higher than 100°C have been reported, and power cables have melted.

Russia and the US have sent supertankers, large planes equipped with tanks carrying thousands of litres of water.

Fires continue to threaten

On 29 January less than half of 130 active fires were under control. This is a horror, a nightmare without end, said Carlos Valenzuela, mayor of Constitución, a city in the path of advancing fires. “Everything has burned.” The authorities are preparing to evacuate the population of 46,000, unless the winds change direction.

The states most affected are in the central southern part of the country, particularly the regions of OHiggins, Maule and Valparaíso, where Chile’s major port is located. More than 100 vineyards in Maule have already been destroyed by the fires.

Winemaker Sergio Amigo Quevedo has lost six hectares of 120-year-old vines. It is hard to believe that those vines, which you have taken care of with such love and sacrifice, are lost … because of a voracious fire caused by careless men. It is a tremendous pain to lose these ancient vines that we bought in 2008 to preserve them from turning into a forest.

Vineyards in the Colchagua Valley, one of Chile’s most famous wine-producing areas, are also threatened by the encroaching flames, as is the region of Bío-Bío, south of Maule. More than 40 national parks and conservation areas have been temporarily closed to visitors. Climate News Network

Almost a quarter of a million square miles of forest have been destroyed as fires rage out of control across central and southern Chile.

SÃO PAULO, 3 February, 2017 Chile is fighting the worst wildfires in its history. Government officials blame both climate change and human action for the blazes. A decade-long drought has left the South American country tinder-dry and, together with higher than average temperatures, made it easy for the fires to spread. Forty-three people have been arrested and accused of arson.

Forest fires are a regular feature of the hot, dry Chilean summers, which last from December to February, but this years fires have devastated almost a quarter of a million square miles, leading to President Michelle Bachelet declaring a national emergency. “We have never seen anything on this scale in the history of Chile,” she said.

Flammable forests

In addition to local weather patterns, shaped by climate change, a review of Chiles wildfires published in the Global and Planetary Change journal warned that the “pattern, frequency and intensity” of wildfires in the country “has grown at an alarming rate in recent years, partly because of intensive forest management practices that have led to a large amount of flammable fuel in the countrys forests.

In the last few decades, closely planted eucalyptus and pine plantations have covered much of what was previously farmland or native forest. The native forests, with their undergrowth and biodiversity, enjoy much higher humidity, but the commercial forests tend to be dry.

Fire chiefs also blame a lack of fire prevention planning, including failure to provide fire breaks.

This is a horror, a nightmare without end.
Everything has burned”

The worst hit areas are the centre and south of Chile, which is a long, thin country, squeezed between the Andes mountains and the Pacific ocean. The capital, Santiago, is now wreathed in smoke, and images from NASA’s Earth Observatory also show big clouds of smoke covering most of the centre of the country.

So far, 11 people, including several firefighters, have died, thousands have been evacuated and entire towns have been consumed by the flames. Some of the vineyards in the Central Valley, home to many of Chile’s best known wines, have been badly damaged.

More than 11,000 firefighters, including police, military, and civilian personnel and volunteers, are fighting the flames. Other Latin American countries have sent teams and equipment. Temperatures of higher than 100°C have been reported, and power cables have melted.

Russia and the US have sent supertankers, large planes equipped with tanks carrying thousands of litres of water.

Fires continue to threaten

On 29 January less than half of 130 active fires were under control. This is a horror, a nightmare without end, said Carlos Valenzuela, mayor of Constitución, a city in the path of advancing fires. “Everything has burned.” The authorities are preparing to evacuate the population of 46,000, unless the winds change direction.

The states most affected are in the central southern part of the country, particularly the regions of OHiggins, Maule and Valparaíso, where Chile’s major port is located. More than 100 vineyards in Maule have already been destroyed by the fires.

Winemaker Sergio Amigo Quevedo has lost six hectares of 120-year-old vines. It is hard to believe that those vines, which you have taken care of with such love and sacrifice, are lost … because of a voracious fire caused by careless men. It is a tremendous pain to lose these ancient vines that we bought in 2008 to preserve them from turning into a forest.

Vineyards in the Colchagua Valley, one of Chile’s most famous wine-producing areas, are also threatened by the encroaching flames, as is the region of Bío-Bío, south of Maule. More than 40 national parks and conservation areas have been temporarily closed to visitors. Climate News Network

Electric vehicles threaten to overtake biofuels

biofuels ethanol pump Brazil

A sharp increase in the predicted global number of EVs prompts Brazil to rev up its promotion of low-carbon biofuels.

SÃO PAULO, 5 January, 2017 By 2040, the number of electric cars in the world could have reached 150 million, or even, if more ambitious targets for emissions reductions are adopted, 715 million. So says the International Energy Agency.

Not only would this mean a drastic reduction in the demand for oil, it could also mean a drastic reduction in the demand for biofuels such as ethanol.

But the biofuel industry is not giving up without a fight. At the recent UN climate talks in Morocco, a consortium of 20 countries launched Biofuture, a platform designed to encourage the use of low-carbon biofuels, including the second generation of sugarcane cellulose-based biofuel. Brazil, the world’s second largest producer of both ethanol and biodiesel (the US is the largest) is leading the initiative.

Biofuels solution

Renato Godinho, head of the Energetic Resources Division at Brazil’s Foreign Ministry, played down the idea of a massive changeover to electric cars before 2050, saying: “Biofuels are an immediate solution. The climate cannot wait.”

Even if there were to be a massive replacement of existing light vehicles by electric models, biofuels advocates believe that the cargo and aviation sectors will be using biofuels for a long time to come.

Artur Milanez, manager of the biofuels department at the BNDES, Brazil’s development bank, says: “Even if electrification seems to make sense today, what will define things is the market.”

Another reason for Brazil’s enthusiasm for biofuels is that giving them a larger share in the economy will enable Brazil to fulfil its Paris Agreement emissions targets, reducing the use of fossil fuels. Petrol sold at the pump already contains 25% ethanol, produced from sugarcane. There are more than 400 sugarcane refineries in Brazil, expected to produce an estimated 26.3 billion litres this year, according to the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association.

Brazil began developing biofuels in the 1970s, when, as an oil importer, it was badly hit by the OPEC oil shock. Cars running on subsidised ethanol took over the internal market, but once the price of oil fell and Brazil began developing its own oilfields, petrol reasserted its dominance. Even so, many of the cars produced in Brazil today are still dual fuel, known as flex.

Brazil is leading the initiative for biofuels,
but it is allowing them to be grown
in areas that should be protected

Ethanol was traditionally produced by fermentation, but years of research in government-sponsored labs has resulted in what is called second-generation ethanol. Enzymes are used to break down the cellulose in the bagasse (the fibrous waste of sugarcane, maize and rice). Productivity has been increased by 50%, producing 10,000 litres per hectare.

This new technology has now left the lab and joined industry, but there are still some problems of scale. Once the technology becomes more widely used, it is claimed that Brazil could produce 45bn litres a year, using the area already planted with sugarcane.

“This is almost the 50bn litres Brazil needs to produce by 2030 if it is to meet its INDC [the intended nationally determined contribution to the emission cuts determined by the Paris Agreement],” says Milanez.

But such expansion can be problematic. Potential consumers, such as Germany, are wary because they are concerned that demand will lead to sugarcane being grown in the Amazon, causing deforestation, or will push out small farmers growing food crops, as has already happened in Africa.

This is a real threat, which could easily be avoided by a change in government policy, offering incentives to use the millions of already deforested and degraded acres that have been used as cattle pasture and then abandoned, and paying farmers for environmental services.

Under the present government, which is dominated by agribusiness interests, anti-environmentalists and climate deniers, it is more likely that deforestation will continue apace.

Vegetation loss

A WWF study forecast the clearing of approximately 10m hectares of the cerrado, the vast tropical savannah region of central Brazil, for agriculture in the next 10 years, unless there is a change in policy. It also projected a loss of 30% in the natural vegetation cover in the states of Maranhão and Piaui in the same period.

The western region of Maranhão contains an area of Amazonian tropical forest, while Piauí is a large state that borders the semi-arid area of the northeast.

Cássio Franco Moreira of WWF blames Brazil’s Forest Code, approved in 2012, which has allowed agricultural expansion in cerrado areas, where many of the country’s principal rivers, including those that flow through the Amazon, have their source, instead of encouraging sustainable agricultural practices.

Once again, Brazil presents a paradox. It is leading the initiative for biofuels, which could reduce carbon emissions. But it is allowing them to be grown in areas that should be protected. Climate News Network

A sharp increase in the predicted global number of EVs prompts Brazil to rev up its promotion of low-carbon biofuels.

SÃO PAULO, 5 January, 2017 By 2040, the number of electric cars in the world could have reached 150 million, or even, if more ambitious targets for emissions reductions are adopted, 715 million. So says the International Energy Agency.

Not only would this mean a drastic reduction in the demand for oil, it could also mean a drastic reduction in the demand for biofuels such as ethanol.

But the biofuel industry is not giving up without a fight. At the recent UN climate talks in Morocco, a consortium of 20 countries launched Biofuture, a platform designed to encourage the use of low-carbon biofuels, including the second generation of sugarcane cellulose-based biofuel. Brazil, the world’s second largest producer of both ethanol and biodiesel (the US is the largest) is leading the initiative.

Biofuels solution

Renato Godinho, head of the Energetic Resources Division at Brazil’s Foreign Ministry, played down the idea of a massive changeover to electric cars before 2050, saying: “Biofuels are an immediate solution. The climate cannot wait.”

Even if there were to be a massive replacement of existing light vehicles by electric models, biofuels advocates believe that the cargo and aviation sectors will be using biofuels for a long time to come.

Artur Milanez, manager of the biofuels department at the BNDES, Brazil’s development bank, says: “Even if electrification seems to make sense today, what will define things is the market.”

Another reason for Brazil’s enthusiasm for biofuels is that giving them a larger share in the economy will enable Brazil to fulfil its Paris Agreement emissions targets, reducing the use of fossil fuels. Petrol sold at the pump already contains 25% ethanol, produced from sugarcane. There are more than 400 sugarcane refineries in Brazil, expected to produce an estimated 26.3 billion litres this year, according to the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association.

Brazil began developing biofuels in the 1970s, when, as an oil importer, it was badly hit by the OPEC oil shock. Cars running on subsidised ethanol took over the internal market, but once the price of oil fell and Brazil began developing its own oilfields, petrol reasserted its dominance. Even so, many of the cars produced in Brazil today are still dual fuel, known as flex.

Brazil is leading the initiative for biofuels,
but it is allowing them to be grown
in areas that should be protected

Ethanol was traditionally produced by fermentation, but years of research in government-sponsored labs has resulted in what is called second-generation ethanol. Enzymes are used to break down the cellulose in the bagasse (the fibrous waste of sugarcane, maize and rice). Productivity has been increased by 50%, producing 10,000 litres per hectare.

This new technology has now left the lab and joined industry, but there are still some problems of scale. Once the technology becomes more widely used, it is claimed that Brazil could produce 45bn litres a year, using the area already planted with sugarcane.

“This is almost the 50bn litres Brazil needs to produce by 2030 if it is to meet its INDC [the intended nationally determined contribution to the emission cuts determined by the Paris Agreement],” says Milanez.

But such expansion can be problematic. Potential consumers, such as Germany, are wary because they are concerned that demand will lead to sugarcane being grown in the Amazon, causing deforestation, or will push out small farmers growing food crops, as has already happened in Africa.

This is a real threat, which could easily be avoided by a change in government policy, offering incentives to use the millions of already deforested and degraded acres that have been used as cattle pasture and then abandoned, and paying farmers for environmental services.

Under the present government, which is dominated by agribusiness interests, anti-environmentalists and climate deniers, it is more likely that deforestation will continue apace.

Vegetation loss

A WWF study forecast the clearing of approximately 10m hectares of the cerrado, the vast tropical savannah region of central Brazil, for agriculture in the next 10 years, unless there is a change in policy. It also projected a loss of 30% in the natural vegetation cover in the states of Maranhão and Piaui in the same period.

The western region of Maranhão contains an area of Amazonian tropical forest, while Piauí is a large state that borders the semi-arid area of the northeast.

Cássio Franco Moreira of WWF blames Brazil’s Forest Code, approved in 2012, which has allowed agricultural expansion in cerrado areas, where many of the country’s principal rivers, including those that flow through the Amazon, have their source, instead of encouraging sustainable agricultural practices.

Once again, Brazil presents a paradox. It is leading the initiative for biofuels, which could reduce carbon emissions. But it is allowing them to be grown in areas that should be protected. Climate News Network