The Amazon rainforest just won a powerful friend in Brazil — a step that may prevent hundreds of tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.
The narrow victory of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva over far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in Sunday’s presidential election was heralded by world leaders as a win for global climate action, writes POLITICO Europe’s Karl Mathiesen.
During his campaign, the left-wing candidate, widely known as Lula, pledged to curtail deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, a critical resource for regulating global carbon levels. He also promised to support other international efforts to curtail catastrophic climate change.
“Brazil is ready to resume its leading role in the fight against the climate crisis, protecting all our biomes, especially the Amazon forest,” Lula said during his acceptance speech.
The Amazon rainforest is huge, covering more than 2 million square miles, or more than half the area of the United States. The Earth’s largest rainforest, the Amazon contains a third of all known plant, animal and insect species. It is also home to 10 percent of global biomass, meaning the forest stores vast amounts of carbon dioxide that are released into the atmosphere when trees are cut down.
Lula’s victory over Bolsonaro — who oversaw record deforestation of the Amazon by ranchers and loggers, and has opposed global efforts to reduce planet-warming emissions — comes a week before world leaders are set to meet in Egypt for international climate talks.
Global leaders from countries such as Germany, Canada, Australia and Spain said they were looking forward to working with Lula and welcomed him as a major new ally in the fight for a more ambitious global climate agenda.
This will be Lula’s second go as Brazil’s president. He served from 2003 to 2010 before being sentenced to 12 years in prison for corruption in 2018. The controversial conviction was overturned by Brazil’s supreme court in 2019, and Lula walked free after 580 days.
Speaking of COP 27: U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak isn’t the only one pulling out of the conference. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg said she’s also skipping out on the talks in Egypt because the international summits “are mainly used as an opportunity for leaders and people in power to get attention, using many different kinds of greenwashing,” she said.
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