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February 10, 2023

35 million euros to Brazil – A “zero act”

President Lula da Silva needs substantial support to save the Amazon rainforest – Brazil expert Thomas Fatheuer now demands this from the German government

Plant-for-the-Planet is closely observing the current situation in Brazil. What is the state of Brazil’s environmental policy, which has so much influence on maintaining the 1.5-degree target of the Paris climate agreement? Hopes are high: President Lula da Silva, sworn in on January 1, 2023, announced last year at the World Climate Conference that he would set the rate of deforestation of the Amazon rainforest at zero by 2030. The wellknown conservationist Marina Silva is once again taking over the environmental portfolio. “This is a clear sign that Lula is serious about environmental policy,” says Brazil expert Thomas Fatheuer. He has lived for many years in Latin America’s largest country and has published numerous studies and articles on Amazonia. Most recently, he managed the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s office in Rio de Janeiro. He is encouraged by the fact that more than 40 percent of the Amazon are already protected areas. President Lula is serious about protecting the forest and respecting indigenous peoples, says Fatheuer. But Fatheuer is critical of the climate protection goals that have been set. Although they sound ambitious, they are not. “By 2030, Brazil has committed to reducing its emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels.” In 2005, however, the rate of deforestation – and therefore emissions – was very high . “The grapes were hanging low, and the goals have already been reached.” The social scientist with a doctorate also sees the promotion of deep-sea oil, Pré-Sal, as a cause for concern. “Brazil is very proud of its huge deposit of oil under the salt layer, including Lula da Silva.” The profits are to be used to finance social policies in the country. A difficult connection.

Brazil expert Thomas Fatheuer gave a lecture 
at the Center for Climate Resilience (ZfK) of 
the University of Augsburg
Brazil expert Thomas Fatheuer gave a lecture at the Center for Climate Resilience (ZfK) of the University of Augsburg

On January 26, Fatheuer gave a talk at the Center for Climate Resilience (ZfK) at the University of Augsburg. Ines Heinbach, new PR and Communications Associate at Plant-for-the-Planet, was there to ask: “Is Germany’s support for Brazilian environmental policy enough?”

“No,” says the Brazil expert. A “zero act” is the 35 million euros that German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is providing for the Amazons Fund, he says. Fatheuer is calling for an increased amount.

The list of his demands is long and powerful. Together with initiatives such as Kooperation Brasilien e.V., he has compiled it and presented it to the German government. Plant-for-the-Planet also supports the call. Among them:

  • Immediate strengthening of the control of illegal activities in protected areas
  • the demarcation and consolidation of indigenous territories
  • easier access to the Amazons Fund for civil society organizations and indigenous peoples

The complete demands are published on this link (German version only).

Plant-for-the-Planet is eagerly awaiting the further decisions of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz after his trip to Brazil – also regarding the controversial trade agreement between the EU and the South American confederation Mercosur. Luciano Frontelle, Executive Director at Plant-for-the-Planet Brazil, is certain: “More investment in climate education is urgently needed to combat the common belief that economic development is possible by cutting down trees.” With 75 Academies and over 3,000 Climate Justice Ambassadors trained since 2017, Plant-for-the-Planet Brazil is already leading the way.