Brazil Election: Good news for the Amazon, but an uphill struggle remains

Aerial view of a deforested plot of the Amazon rainforest in Manaus. 8 July 2022.
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The eyes of much of the environmental movement were on Brazil this week as that nation faced an electoral choice with enormous consequences for the Amazon rainforest, and indeed, for the future of the world. President-elect Lula da Silva won by a tiny margin, and faces huge challenges, as we learn from the AP:

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — In a victory speech Sunday, Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva promised to reverse a surge in deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

“We will once again monitor and do surveillance in the Amazon. We will fight every illegal activity,” leftist da Silva said in his speech at a hotel in downtown Sao Paulo. “At the same time, we will promote sustainable development of communities in the Amazon.”

To achieve this in his third term, he will have to boost environmental law enforcement, face a hostile Congress and deal with state governors who have strong ties with the defeated far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

If he is serious, the job will be immense. The area deforested in Brazil’s Amazon reached a 15-year high from August 2020 to July 2021, according to official figures. Satellite monitoring shows the trend in 2022 is on track to surpass the previous year.