Af­ter U.S. exit, Brazil weighs roll­back of Paris cli­mate pledges.

Coun­try may step back from Paris agree­ment

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY SARAH DILORENZO

SAO PAULO | Brazil is con­sid­er­ing mea­sures that would roll back en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions and make it dif­fi­cult to meet its Paris cli­mate ac­cord tar­gets — a sig­nal that an­other ma­jor player is step­ping back from its com­mit­ments on cli­mate change af­ter Pres­i­dent Trump pulled the U.S. out of the global pact.

Brazil’s Congress has al­ready passed two mea­sures that will dra­mat­i­cally re­duce the size of pro­tected en­vi­ron­men­tal re­serves. Law­mak­ers are also con­sid­er­ing sub­stan­tially re­lax­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal li­cens­ing rules for in­fra­struc­ture, agri­cul­tural and in­dus­trial projects. A pro­posal that would change how in­dige­nous lands are des­ig­nated, po­ten­tially re­duc­ing their size and pro­tec­tion, is also on the ta­ble.

This comes at a time when the Ama­zon and At­lantic rain forests are be­ing cut at the fastest rate in nearly a decade, and the vi­o­lent strug­gle for con­trol of forested land is in on the rise.

“Brazil is throw­ing aside the op­por­tu­nity to be a leader on these ques­tions,” said Marcio Astrini, co­or­di­na­tor of pub­lic pol­icy for Green­peace in Brazil. “It’s very hard for some­one to man­age to be worse than Trump on the en­vi­ron­ment, but the Brazil­ian gov­ern­ment is work­ing very hard” to do that.

Brazil was long seen as a global leader on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues. As the ma­jor stew­ard of the Ama­zon rain for­est, its poli­cies have a tremen­dous ef­fect on global rates of car­bon emis­sions re­duc­tion. In con­junc­tion with Mr. Trump’s re­cent de­ci­sion to pull the U.S. out of the Paris agree­ment, Brazil’s move away from en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tion could jeop­ar­dize global goals.

The moves come amid po­lit­i­cal tur­moil in Latin Amer­ica’s largest na­tion. Pres­i­dent Michel Te­mer is strug­gling to stay in of­fice amid cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions and threats of im­peach­ment or re­moval by an elec­toral court. Amid the furor, he is try­ing to pass un­pop­u­lar re­forms he says are es­sen­tial to help­ing Brazil’s econ­omy shrug off a deep two-year re­ces­sion.

Mr. Te­mer has agreed to back a se­ries of mea­sures pro­moted by Congress’ so-called “ru­ral cau­cus” — a group of law­mak­ers rep­re­sent­ing the in­ter­ests of ru­ral landown­ers, in­clud­ing agribusi­ness and ranch­ers — in ex­change for help pass­ing his own agenda, and hope­fully avoiding im­peach­ment.

“This gov­ern­ment is us­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal agenda as cur­rency,” Mr. Astrini said.

Last month, Congress passed two mea­sures that con­vert around 1.4 mil­lion acres of pro­tected land, the vast ma­jor­ity of it in the Ama­zon, into ar­eas open to log­ging, min­ing and agri­cul­tural use. An anal­y­sis by the In­sti­tute for Ama­zon En­vi­ron­men­tal Re­search es­ti­mates the drop in pro­tec­tions could re­sult in the loss of nearly 700,000 acres of for­est by 2030 and lead to the re­lease of 140 mil­lion tons of car­bon diox­ide.

Nil­son Leitao, a fed­eral law­maker from the ru­ral cau­cus, dis­puted that the mea­sures would lead to de­for­esta­tion and noted that the area was al­ready one of the most pro­tected in the world. “The peo­ple who live there ... they need a life, they need to pro­duce,” he said.

One ten­sion that has plagued Paris and past cli­mate ac­cords is the feel­ing by de­vel­op­ing coun­tries such as Brazil that the lead­ing de­vel­oped pow­ers are seek­ing to limit fos­sil-fuel use only af­ter they have com­pleted their own in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion phase.

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