The extent of deforested areas during the tenure of Jair Bolsonaro, in power since 1er January 2019, with the support of the agri-food lobby, is spectacular. By the end of the year, nearly 40,000 square kilometers of rainforest will have been razed in Brazil, an area larger than the extent of Belgium. The outgoing president notably distinguished himself by dismantling the institutions in charge of environmental protection or by reducing their respective budgets.
The Amazon is described as “the lungs of the earth” due to its ability to sequester carbon dioxide (CO2). According to a study published by the journal Nature in July 2021, much of the Amazon basin is now emitting more CO2 than it absorbs. To explain this reversal of the status of “carbon sink” to that of emitter, the researchers put forward several factors, including the fires caused by farmers who illegally clear the land by burning the trees. Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas, a determining factor in the global rise in temperatures on Earth.
The presidential election in Brazil takes place on Sunday 2 October. Environmental defenders are now pinning all their hopes on Jair Bolsonaro’s main opponent, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a former left-wing president. Between 2004 and 2012, the latter had allowed an 80% reduction in deforestation. Under his mandate, several laws and moratoriums had been adopted, which proves a correlation between political will and deforestation.
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