Latest data shows Brazilian government has accelerated the course of the Amazon’s destruction: Mauricio Voivodic

According to the Brazilian government’s annual report, deforestation in the Amazon rainforest soared by 22% in a year to its highest level since 2006, undercutting President Jair Bolsonaro’s assurances that Brazil is curbing illegal logging.

Brazil’s space research agency, INPE, has recorded 13,235 square kilometers (5,110 square miles) of deforestation in the world’s largest rainforest, which acts as the world’s lungs absorbing hundreds of tons of carbon per year.

The surge in the destruction of the Amazon, comes despite Bolsonaro’s efforts to show that his government is serious about protecting the Amazon, considered critical to staving off catastrophic climate change.

Bolsonaro’s government is calling for more mining and commercial farming in protected parts of the rainforest.

Earlier this month, at the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, at COP26, Brazil’s government brought forward a pledge to end illegal deforestation by two years to 2028, a target that would require aggressive annual reductions in the destruction.

The INPE report, dated October 27, showed deforestation rising in each of the last four cycles – a first for the data series since at least 2000.

“Notice the date on the INPE note. The government went to COP26 knowing the deforestation data and hid it,” tweeted Brazilian advocacy group the Climate Observatory.

As per a source with knowledge of the matter at hand, the Brazilian government had the data in hand prior to the UN summit.

In the run-up to the COP26 summit, the Brazilian government had touted preliminary monthly data pointing to a slight decline in the annual period as evidence it was getting deforestation under control. Instead a more refined data showed the opposite.

“The numbers are still a challenge for us and we have to be more forceful in relation to these crimes,” said Environment Minister Joaquim Pereira Leite.

The data has cast doubt on Brazil’s signing up to a global pledge with more than 100 other nations to eliminate deforestation worldwide by 2030.

Brazil, home to the majority of the world’s largest rainforest, is seen as being crucial to that global pact.

The Amazon’s trees absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide that would otherwise warm the planet.

Scientists opine that if loggers destroy large sections of the Amazon, it could cross the tipping point and dry out and turn into a savannah; this would release huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, virtually ensuring that the world will miss its global targets laid out to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Bolsonaro’s moves to show that his government is protecting the Amazon have fallen short. While he has shown that he has regularly deployed the military to the Amazon since 2019 to aid in policing deforestation, an investigation by Reuters has shown several missteps and incompetence by the military, which failed to rein in damage to the Amazon rainforest.

Mauricio Voivodic, head of environmental group WWF in Brazil, said the numbers laid bare “the real Brazil that the Bolsonaro government tries to hide with imaginary discourses and greenwashing efforts abroad.”

“What the reality shows,” he said, “is that the Bolsonaro government has accelerated the course of the Amazon’s destruction.”

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