Promoting Climate Credentials, Brazil Faces Criticism for Oil Investment

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Brazil’s first-ever minister for indigenous peoples, Sônia Guajajara, has stated that the country is committed to swiftly restoring its climate credibility and preventing the Amazon rainforest from reaching a catastrophic tipping point. Since taking office, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has made significant progress in reversing the accelerating deforestation trend in the Amazon. The rate of deforestation has fallen to its lowest level in six years. However, the government has faced criticism for its plans to open new oil fields near the Amazon River. Guajajara emphasized the need to rebuild infrastructure and strengthen environmental and indigenous affairs agencies.

The Amazon rainforest is crucial in absorbing carbon dioxide and combating climate change, with approximately 60% of the rainforest located in Brazil. The country is the world’s sixth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Guajajara highlighted Lula’s commitment to reducing deforestation and poverty and protecting the Amazon, as well as showcasing Brazil’s achievements at the upcoming COP28 climate conference. However, the government’s investment in the oil and gas sector, particularly plans to explore offshore oil, has raised concerns. Indigenous leader Txai Surui criticized the potential development of offshore oil, calling it morally unacceptable.

While Brazil has seen progress in reducing deforestation, the threat of fossil fuels undermines these climate achievements. The country’s focus on accelerating the energy transition and investing in the oil and gas sector has raised questions about the government’s commitment to environmental conservation. Surui hoped that Brazil would follow the example of neighboring Colombia, which announced its refusal to approve new oil and gas exploration projects. Ecuador’s historic referendum prohibiting oil drilling in a protected area of the Amazon was celebrated by climate justice advocates worldwide. As Brazil faces extreme temperatures and warnings of ecosystem collapse, Guajajara stressed the urgent need for action from individuals, companies, and governments to prevent the Amazon from reaching its tipping point.

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