Brazil's Newly Elected President Has Some Horrifying Plans For The Amazon Rainforest

60% of the Amazon rainforest - the largest and most biodiverse tropical rainforest in the world - is in Brazil. Filipe Frazao/Shutterstock 

Rosie McCall 29 Oct 2018, 15:30

"Instead of spreading the message that he will fight deforestation and organized crime, he says he will attack the ministry of environment, Ibama, and ICMBio," said Edson Duarte, the country's current environment minister, The Guardian reports.

Ibama and ICMBio are both federal environmental agencies responsible for tackling illegal mining, logging, and deforestation but Bolsonaro has said he wants to remove their environmental licensing powers. "It’s the same as saying that he will withdraw the police from the streets," Duarte added.

Why is this important? Brazil is home to 60 percent of the world's largest tropical rainforest, the Amazon – essentially one of the world's largest carbon sinks. In fact, it soaks up so much carbon that it effectively nullifies the region's greenhouse gas emissions but already it is taking up a third less carbon than it did just a decade ago. Between 2005 and 2012, the rate of deforestation in the Amazon shrunk by 20,000 square kilometers (7,700 square miles) a year to 6,000 square kilometers (2,300 square miles) a year and it would be a shame to see that trend reversed.

But hope is not lost. Bolsonaro himself has been fairly vague and extremely inconsistent with his environmental policies. While he has said he will exit Brazil from the Paris Agreement on multiple occasions, he has also (more recently) said that he wouldn'tHis manifesto also shows support for the expansion of renewable energy. 

And, of course, Brazil is not a dictatorship but a democracy, albeit one some commentators say looks a little vulnerable right now. If Bolsonaro does want to follow through on his environmentally-unfriendly promises, he has the Brazilian Constitution and the Senate and Congress to contend with. 

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