An environmentalist’s calculated push toward Brazil’s presidency

October 1, 2014

Paulo Prada – Reuters, 10/1/2014

In March 2003, three months into her tenure as Brazil’s environment minister, Marina Silva gathered a half-dozen aides at the modernist ministry building in Brasilia, the capital.

She told them the new government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was about to embark on a pharaonic infrastructure project for Brazil’s arid Northeast.

The project, a still-ongoing effort to reroute water from one of Brazil’s biggest rivers, had previously been opposed by environmentalists, including Silva herself. Rather than explain how she would thwart the plan, however, the former activist said she would work to make it as sustainable as possible.

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Brazil Says No to Anti-Deforestation Plans: The Difficulty of a Global Response to Climate Change

September 23, 2014

Hannah Osborne – International Business Times, 09/23/2014

Brazil has refused to endorse a global anti-deforestation initiative put forward at the UN climate summit because it says it was left out of the consultation process.

According to an exclusive report by the Associated Press, environment minister Izabella Teixeira said her country was “not invited to be engaged in the preparation process” of the plan.

“Unfortunately, we were not consulted. But I think that it’s impossible to think that you can have a global forest initiative without Brazil on board. It doesn’t make sense,” she said. However, a UN official denied her claims, saying “there were efforts to reach out to the Brazilian government”. Charles McNeill, a senior environmental policy adviser with the UN, said: “There wasn’t a response [from Brazil].”

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We will end up with an overestimation of the party leaders, says Marina’s right hand man [PORTUGUESE]

September 22, 2014

Natuza Nery and Marina Dias – Folha de S. Paulo, 9/22/2014

Folha de S. Paulo interviews biologist João Paulo Capobianco, who has worked closely with Marina Silva, about her intentions for the upcoming presidential race.

Folha – The economist Eduardo Giannetti, ally of Marina, said that she prefers to grow at 3% with economic sustainability at 7%. Is this true?
Capobianco – Marina would not make a trade-off like that. Brazil has an enormous challenge of having social inclusion that cannot forego growth. The issue is to separate growth from the mentality of pushing for growth at any price, as is the vision of the current government. In this mindset, it does not matter if I create a million conflicts because I have the idea that creating the Belo Monte dam is the best thing for the country.

Is she against Belo Monte?
No. That is another myth, the idea that Marina is against hydroelectric power. The issue is how to make a project sustainable from an economic, social, and environmental standpoint.

But growth with sustainability is costly.
How is it costly? I think that the contrary is true. What is costly is not doing it.

Read more [in Portuguese]…


Brazil’s largest company, Petrobras, accused of political kickbacks

September 18, 2014

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 09/17/2014

The brutalist headquarters of South America’s biggest company, Petrobras, offers a harsh riposte to those who try to romanticise Brazil as a land of golden beaches and endless forest. This week, the concrete edifice in central Rio de Janeiro was the focus of a pro-oil rally by thousands of petrochemical workers amid a presidential election debate dominated by how to manage the nation’s vast fossil fuel reserves.

It is a question that has opened up the biggest gap between President Dilma Rousseff, an old industry champion of the Workers Party, and her main challenger Marina Silva, a former environment minister who has pledged to shift priorities towards alternatives energies like wind, solar and ethanol.

This is more than just a Brazilian rerun of George Bush and Big Oil versus Al Gore and climate concern, because state-run Petrobras is no ordinary company and – with the company also mired in a massive corruption scandal – this is no ordinary time.

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Indians in Brazil say gov’t deceived them about dam project

September 17, 2014

EFE – Fox News Latino, 09/16/2014

Brazil’s Munduruku Indians charged Tuesday that the government deceived them and defied a requirement to consult with the tribe before approving the construction of a new hydroelectric dam in the Amazon jungle.

A statement distributed by the Missionary Indian Council, a group linked to the Catholic Church, said the indigenous people “are outraged” after the government of President Dilma Rousseff set Dec. 15 as the date to receive bids to build the São Luiz do Tapajos power plant in the northern state of Para.

Government officials met with Munduruku representatives two weeks ago to discuss the Indians’ rights to be consulted about developments in their lands, as mandated by Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization.

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Brazil building Amazon observation tower to monitor climate change impact

September 15, 2014

Agence France-Presse – The Guardian, 09/14/2014

Brazil is building a giant observation tower in the heart of the Amazon to monitor climate change and its impact on the region’s sensitive ecosystem, a newspaper has reported. The Amazon Tall Tower Observatory is a project of Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research and Germany’s Max Planck Institute, O Estado de São Paulo said.

The tower, which will rise 325 metres from the ground, will be equipped with high-tech instruments and an observatory to monitor relationships between the jungle and the atmosphere. It will gather data on heat, water, carbon gas, winds, cloud formation, carbon absorption and weather patterns.

The project has been seven years in the making, with a site finally being selected far from any human presence, about 100 miles from Manaus, capital of the state of Amazonas, project coordinator Antonio Manzi told the newspaper.

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Some companies profit as Brazil struggles to secure power

September 12, 2014

Todd Benson and Marguerita Choy – Reuters, 9/11/2014

A small group of energy companies in Brazil are increasing revenues at a time when the country is grappling with its worst power crisis in more than a decade, taking advantage of sky-high prices to sell electricity in the spot market.

Power generators that have managed to produce extra energy in recent months or who aren’t restricted by long-term supply contracts are being rewarded with prices up to six times higher than the average cost on conventional electricity contracts.

At the same time, distributors that had to resort to the short-term market to fulfill demand increases are facing financial burdens and are being rescued by the government.

Read more…


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