With reference to the article “Are Jair Messias Bolsonaro and Donald Trump a Menace to the Planet?” published on The Manila Times on August 15, I would like to provide the readers with information to enrich their analysis of the environmental policies of Brazil.
I would like to clarify that Brazil remains fully committed to the goals set in accordance with the Paris Agreement. This commitment is shown, among other achievements, by the use of clean energy in Brazil: 45 percent of our energy is generated from renewable sources against a world average of 14 percent.
When it comes to preserving our forests and other biomes, Brazil also leads by example. The country’s protected areas amount to more than 30 percent of its territory, or 2.5 million square kilometers — that is larger than the land area of Algeria, the 10th largest country in the world. Out of this total, half is located in the Amazon, which, because of the exuberance of its rainforest, draws most of the international attention.
The Brazilian government remains unwavering in its commitment to combat deforestation. In fact, Brazil has reduced deforestation in the Amazon by 72 percent in the last 15 years. Moreover, we have regenerated in the Amazon alone 9.4 million hectares of vegetation and replanted forests in another 2 million hectares. That results from the combination of legislation, policies, monitoring, enforcement and other actions.
Brazil has one of the most advanced forest laws in the world. It imposes unparalleled conservation requirements on farmers and ranchers in the Amazon, where landowners must preserve at least 80 percent of the original vegetation on their property. Moreover, the Brazilian government and private companies have worked together to reconcile economic activity and conservation, in initiatives such as the soy moratorium in the Amazon and the terms of adjustment of conduct for the beef supply-chain.
These initiatives in agriculture and livestock are a clear example of how environmental protection and economic development can go hand in hand. Only 30 percent of the Brazilian territory is dedicated to agriculture and ranching — in European countries, for comparison, these figures usually range between 45 percent and 65 percent. Despite this relatively small proportion of its land dedicated to agricultural activities, Brazil is the second largest agricultural exporter in the world and feeds around 20 percent of the global population.
Monitoring of deforestation is another key component of the Brazilian efforts to preserve our environment. The task entails watching over an area of 5 million square kilometers, more than half the size of the United States. The data about deforestation in the Amazon mentioned in the referred article, therefore, need to be understood in their nature and in their context. It comes from a satellite system (“Deter”), whose main purpose is not to generate compiled deforestation rates, but to release deforestation warnings to guide the work of forces on the ground. In line with this purpose, the data gathering is fast, but not the most accurate. It is a crucial instrument, which will be preserved, but one that is not suitable for this kind of analysis. Deforestation rates are published once a year through a different satellite system (“Prodes”), whose data will be available in approximately two months.
In addition to these two oversight systems, the Brazilian government has announced it will procure a new system of high-resolution satellite images to be collected on a daily basis. This will be another fundamental tool for Brazil to protect the rainforest.
These are a few examples of the multiple initiatives taken by the Brazilian government, in many different areas, regarding a subject of utmost concern for our country. The commitment of Brazil to protect the environment and to fight deforestation is deep, strong, and will always remain this way.
Should any further information be needed, please do not hesitate to contact me or my team in the Embassy of Brazil.
Rodrigo do Amaral Souza