U.S. President Donald Trump announced Thursday his withdrawal from the Paris Accord to fight climate change. Country leaders from across the world denounced Trump’s move, Brazil included.
In a joint statement, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Environment expressed “profound concern and disappointment” at the move. Furthermore, the statement expressed concern over “the negative impact of such decision on the multilateral dialogue and cooperation to respond to global changes.”
Despite Brazil’s “profound concern” regarding Trump’s decision, the current administration has failed to meet its own environmental promises. These promises influence the state of global climate change as well as the livelihood of its own native peoples.
1/3 of the world’s rainforests
Brazil is indeed home to one-third of the world’s rainforest. This includes the largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon. The existence of these forests is essential to cutting greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Moreover, these forests are home to millions of diverse species and a number of Brazil’s indigenous peoples.
However, corporate agriculture and small subsistence farming have long worked to tear away at these biological wonders. In recent years, Brazil’s economic recession has encouraged a surge in frantic forest clearance, forcing a spike in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Meanwhile, budget cuts of 50 percent to the Ministry of Environment raise questions about how effective the government can be in monitoring the implementation of the Paris Agreement goals.
President Temer’s administration has encouraged this surge with reforms to the environmental protection policy, the Forest Code. These reforms left 41 million hectares of rainforest vulnerable to farming and agriculture exploitation.
Per the Paris Agreement, each country determines its own climate change goals. Brazil’s “Nationally Determined Contribution” (NDC) aims to decrease its GHG emissions by 53 and 58 percent below 2005 levels in 2025 and 2030, respectively.
However, experts judge Brazil’s goals to be below its fair contribution to the Paris goals to limit global warming to “below 2°C”. Indeed, poor budgeting and economic performance combined with weak policies has caused GHG emissions to continue to grow annually. Between 2014 and 2015, the country’s GHG emissions grew 3.5 percent.
Talk is talk, and President Trump deserves to be taken down a notch or two. But Brazil also needs to strengthen its environmental protection policies if it wishes to truly contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable world.