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What’s at Stake in Brazil’s Election? The Future of the Amazon

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What’s at Stake in Brazil’s Election? The Future of the Amazon

The upcoming presidential runoff in Brazil will have a critical impact on fate of the Amazon, writes Somini Sengupta for the New York Times. Dicusssing the policy proposals of the two final candidates, right-winger Jair Bolsonaro (PSL) and leftist Fernando Haddad (PT), Sengupta notes that substantive support for environmental protections is far from gauranteed under a Haddad presidency, given the Workers' Party's mixed track record; while a Bolsonaro presidency is almost certain to present a "huge obstacle for the global efforts to combat global warming." She concludes that Brazil's stature as a international leader on environmental issues is at stake, as is the country's capacity and willingness to fulfill its commitments under the Paris Agreement--with global implications.

What's at Stake in Brazil's Election? The Future of the Amazon

By Somini Sengupta

UNITED NATIONS — The presidential election in Brazil will not only shape the destiny of Latin America’s largest country. It is also a referendum on the fate of the Amazon: the world’s largest tropical forest, sometimes known as the lungs of the Earth.

The stakes for the planet are huge.

The front-runner for the presidency, Jair Bolsonaro — a far-right congressman who has said Brazil’s environmental policy is “suffocating the country” — has promised to champion his country’s powerful agribusiness sector, which seeks to open up more forest to produce the beef and soy that the world demands.

He has dangled the possibility of pulling out of the Paris climate agreement. But even if he doesn’t, his campaign promises could have dire consequences for the Amazon, and therefore for the rest of the planet. Stretching across two million square miles, most of it in Brazil, the Amazon acts as a giant sink for the carbon dioxide emissions that the world as a whole produces.

Mr. Bolsonaro has said he would scrap the Environment Ministry, which is mandated to protect the environment, and instead fold it into the Agriculture Ministry, which tends to favor the interests of those who would convert forests into farmland...

To read the full article, available on the New York Times, click here.

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Brazil Institute

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Brazil Institute

The Brazil Institute—the only country-specific policy institution focused on Brazil in Washington—works to foster understanding of Brazil’s complex reality and to support more consequential relations between Brazilian and U.S. institutions in all sectors.  Read more