‘Zero illegal deforestation’ – One more Bolsonaro distortion (commentary)

‘Zero illegal deforestation’ – One more Bolsonaro distortion (commentary)

The text of this commentary is updated from an earlier Portuguese-language version of the author’s column at Amazônia Real. On 22 April 2021, exactly one year after the infamous ministerial meeting in which Brazil’s environment minister proposed seizing the “opportunity” presented by media attention being focused on COVID-19 to dismantle even more of the country’s environmental protections, President Bolsonaro addressed the virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden. The multiple falsehoods and distortions in Bolsonaro’s address have been well documented (see here and here). There is one more important distortion: Bolsonaro’s promise of “zero illegal deforestation” by 2030. There are two ways that “zero illegal deforestation” can be achieved: by truly stopping deforestation and by simply declaring as “legal” the deforestation that is taking place. But the area of forest that is actually cut down — and the sequestered carbon it releases to the atmosphere — is all that matters for Earth’s climate, not the legality of the deforestation. A land grabber (grileiro) in the “Terra do Meio” in Pará state, Brazil. Image by P.M. Fearnside. Legalization of illegal deforestation has accelerated since President Bolsonaro took office on 1 January 2019. A first step in this process is the legalization of illegal land claims, after which past deforestation on the new “properties” can be legalized and future deforestation can be allowed through the existing permitting system. Legalizing illegal land claims in Brazilian Amazonia has been shown to stimulate deforestation. Proposals for other forms of legalizing deforestation are also…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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