BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s president-elect Luis Inacio Lula da Silva has urged Britain, France, the United States and others to contribute to an international fund to protect the Amazon rainforest, a bulwark against climate change. Lula’s advisers said they are seeking donations. Tuesday.
Lula’s team is also seeking contributions from Switzerland and Canada, advisers said.
The Amazon Fund, launched under the leftist Lula’s first government from 2003 to 2010, funds conservation projects and counts Norway and Germany as the largest donors.
Right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has frozen the fund, citing unspecified spending fraud among projects supported by the fund run by non-governmental organizations, without providing evidence. The fund already contains about 3 billion reais ($563.71 million) and has not been used for nearly four years.
Stopping deforestation in the Amazon, which absorbs large amounts of global warming greenhouse gases, is part of Lula’s sweeping plan to restore Brazil’s climate leadership. Bolsonaro prioritized economic development over environmental protection and appointed climate skeptics to his cabinet.
Marina Silva, a former environment minister and adviser to Lula’s transition team, said the expansion of the Amazon fund will allow Lula to take immediate action to protect the environment when she takes office on January 1. He said he would get the resources for
Working on the 2023 budget passed under Bolsonaro and contributing to the fund, Lula said, “Expanding our resources beyond what Norway and Germany are already doing will help us meet the challenges we face. It will be very helpful to face the moment,” said Silva.
She personally raised the issue with the UK, Canada, France, US and Switzerland while attending the COP27 UN climate summit in Egypt in early November.
The British Embassy said the government was considering an invitation to join the Amazon Foundation.
Isabella Teixeira, Lula’s former environment minister and current climate change adviser, told Reuters that she had met with Norwegian and German officials on Monday about resuming the fund.
Norwegian Environment Minister Espen Barth Eide said at a UN meeting that he hoped the fund would resume “as soon as 1 January”.
Teixeira confirmed that the UK, France and Switzerland have expressed interest in the fund.
The former minister said he had lunch with the British Ambassador to Brazil and the head of the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) about new cooperation, including the Amazon Fund.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will visit Brazil in the first half of 2023 to discuss possible cooperation before the country makes a final decision on joining the fund, she said.
The British Embassy said at the COP27 summit that the country’s climate and environment minister had been contacted by Brazilian Senator Randolphe Rodriguez and Para state governor Helder Barbaro about the donation to the fund. Both officers accompanied Lula on her visit to COP27.
The US and Canadian embassies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.The French and Swiss embassies declined to comment.
Deforestation surged to a 15-year high under the Bolsonaro government, which called for increased farming and mining in the Amazon region.
Lula pledged to end deforestation using every tool at his disposal, including more money and officials to enforce environmental laws.
($1 = 5.3219 reais)
Reporting by Anthony Bodle and Jake Spring.Editing by Jonathan Ortiz and Grant McCool
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.