Climate is emerging as a major issue in Brazil’s presidential contest, with both leading candidates promising to protect the Amazon rainforest
The climate crisis and rainforest conservation are emerging as major issues in Brazil’s upcoming presidential election. Yet both leading candidates are pushing for new fossil fuel infrastructure.
Former leftist president, Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, leads the polls against the current president Jair Bolsonaro, who is seeking reelection. More than 156 million people are registered to vote on 2 October for the first electoral round.
Despite Bolsonaro’s destructive policies towards the Amazon rainforest, both he and Lula have incorporated proposals to halt deforestation, in an effort to attract concerned voters.
More than in previous years, the climate crisis has become a significant voter priority for this election, analysts told Climate Home News.
The South American country of 212 million people is the world’s sixth largest greenhouse gas emitter and home to most of the Amazon rainforest, which has experienced rising deforestation and extreme wildfires in the last four years.
In the case of all major candidates, avoiding climate action in their plans would be a “political suicide”, given the global and national context, said Thales Castro, head of the Political Science Program at the Catholic University of Pernambuco (Unicap).
Bolsonaro’s government plan proposes the use of green bonds and carbon credits to finance emissions reductions, as well as hiring 6,000 firefighters to control extreme wildfires.
The document says he’ll seek to accelerate “actions to reduce” emissions, and adds that Brazil can be a “provider of climate solutions and establishing itself as a world leader in a global green supply chain”.
But Bolsonaro’s deforestation record and his support for large agribusiness show that these proposals cannot be taken seriously, said Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the climate NGO coalition Observatório do Clima.
Under his term, deforestation in the Amazon rose to a 12-year high. After this data was revealed by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, he denied it and sacked the head of the space agency.