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Will Bolsonaro’s Government Hurt the Environment?

Brazil is home to the world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon, pictured above. // File Photo: Brazilian Government.

Brazil announced last month that it was backing out of hosting next year’s U.N. climate change conference, COP-25, with the foreign ministry citing budgetary restrictions and the governmental transition process as the reasons behind the reversal. The move comes after Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro tapped Ernesto Araújo to be the country’s next foreign minister. Araújo has voiced his opposition to the Paris climate agreement and has called climate change “Marxist dogma.” Meanwhile, a Greenpeace report released in November showed that deforestation in Brazil grew by nearly 14 percent between August last year and July, clearing an area of 7,900 square kilometers of the Amazon in just one year. What does Brazil’s decision to pull out of hosting COP-25 say about the incoming government’s global role on climate change, and was it the right choice? Are big changes in environmental policy in store for Brazil? How might the Bolsonaro administration’s stance on environmental issues influence his energy policies?

Eduardo Viola, professor at Universidade de Brasília and research coordinator at the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq): “Brazilian climate policy has already been undermined in the last five years because of the dramatic increase of deforestation in the Amazon and its poor commitment in complying with the NDC (nationally determined contribution agreed upon in the Paris accord) in all areas. It is likely that this undermining will continue under the Bolsonaro administration. First, there will be a promotion of oil exploration and consumption. Second, there will be a relaxation of environmental standards for large infrastructure, mining and energy projects with potential negative impacts on deforestation. Third, there will be…”

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A sister publication of the Inter-American Dialogue’s daily Latin America Advisor, the weekly Energy Advisor captures fresh analysis from business leaders and government officials on the most important developments in oil and gas, biofuels, the power sector, renewable energies, new technologies, and the policy debates shaping the future of energy in the Western Hemisphere. To subscribe or for more information, contact Erik Brand, publisher of the Advisor, at

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