Dom Phillips and Nick Miroff – The Washington Post, 05/22/2016
Signs of a rightward turn by Brazil’s new government have alarmed conservationists and climate change activists who fear a rollback of environmental laws that could accelerate deforestation in the Amazon basin.
With Brazil’s economy in its worst slump since the 1930s, new leader Michel Temer took power this month promising a more business-friendly agenda to spur growth. Temer named a conservative-leaning cabinet whose members include figures with close ties to powerful landowners and agribusiness companies.
Temer has taken control in South America’s largest nation — and the world’s biggest rain forest — at a time when Brazilian lawmakers are considering a major overhaul of environmental laws. This includes a controversial constitutional amendment known as PEC 65 that would reduce licensing requirements for development projects and limit judicial oversight of their impact.
The Brazil Institute, 04/22/2016
Nicole Crowder – The Washington Post, 04/22/2015
Ahead of the upcoming 2016 Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Washington Post staff photographer Bonnie Jo Mount traveled to Piquiá de Baixo to document a community of residents in clay-brick and wooden houses suffering from the heavy pollution from nearby pig iron factories and the noisy Carajás railway that runs through the Amazon region transporting ore.
Away from the busy rail tracks and gathering dust, Mount documented a more personal portrait of the country via her Instagram, one that reflects a serene, even majestic Brazil. Vibrant tiles jut out from a red wall near contrasting green glass window shutters in Rio. A young man walks past a facade of wooden blue doors and iron balconies, oxidized over time by the elements in the historic district of São Luís. And while the southern coastal region of the country has suffered one of its most severe droughts in nearly 80 years, Mount’s vignettes are able to capture the soul and beauty of Brazilian landscapes, from its energetic beaches of Ipanema to aerials of the Amazon rainforest.
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Richard Schiffman – Newsweek, 3/22/2015
In a world hungry for environmental success stories, Brazil has been the closest thing we have to a golden child. The nation, Latin America’s largest economy, has been growing at an impressive clip, weathering the global financial crisis while cutting deforestation rates in the Amazon to historic lows. Citing its success in protecting the earth’s largest rain forest, President Dilma Rousseff boasted that Brazil is “one of the most advanced countries” for sustainable development, on World Environment Day last June.
But it is too soon to declare victory in the Amazon. Corruption, lawlessness and massive land fraud are now threatening those gains, and an aggressive new development push in the region may soon open remote areas of the forest to being cut.
Between 2005 and 2010, Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions plunged by 39 percent, declining faster than in any other country. Brazil accomplished this by slashing its deforestation rate by more than three-quarters, mostly in the Amazon basin. (Burning forests to clear them is the second biggest source of greenhouse gases after the combustion of fossil fuels, accounting for 30 percent of the carbon dioxide produced by human activities, according to one U.N. study.)
Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 3/2/2015
For most of the past six years, Ezequiel Antônio Castanha had seemed a pillar of the community in the small Amazonian city of Novo Progresso. As the owner of a supermarket, hotel and car dealership, he provided more jobs than anyone else. Outside his municipality, few had heard of him. Neighbours described him as a “pessoa normal” (regular guy).
Today, however, the thick-set, middle-aged man sits in jail with a notoriety across Brazil as a Tony Soprano-like character whose businesses were used to launder money from one of the biggest land clearance syndicates ever uncovered.
Castanha was arrested last weekend, along with 15 associates, in what has been hailed as a major breakthrough for environmental enforcement. The local media have described the detainee as the “king of deforestation”. According to the environment ministry Ibama, he and his gang were responsible for about 10% of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon last year.
Raymond Colitt – Bloomberg, 1/16/2015
The 2016 Olympics will be no panacea for Brazil’s faltering economy if last year’s World Cup is any guide. Contrary to government projections, Brazil has failed to lure to its beaches and jungles many of the 3.5 billion TV viewers that followed the tournament.
The flow of tourists to the country, which spent more to host the mega-event than any nation before it, has remained flat from a year earlier since the final match July 13, according to tour operators and an online search engine. Spending by foreign visitors fell 7.4 percent from August through November, compared with a year earlier, central bank data shows.
From the rhythms of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro to the Amazon forest and Iguassu Falls, Brazil boasts some of the world’s outstanding travel attractions. Yet several hurdles, from high costs and violence to poor marketing and logistics, mean many potential visitors choose to go elsewhere, said Diogo Canteras, partner at hotel consulting firm HotelInvest.
David Sim – International Business Times, 11/24/2014
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is on the increase for the first time in ten years. Deforestation rose last year by 16%, as current policies appear to be failing to deter forest destruction caused mainly by illegal logging and cattle expansion.
Brazil had success in the last decade combating deforestation, consequently cutting carbon emissions. But the country’s annual greenhouse gas emissions were almost 8% higher in 2013 than one year earlier. The Observatorio do Clima, or Climate Observatory, said in a report that greenhouse gas emissions amounted to 1.57 billion metric tons in 2013 compared to 1.45 billion metric tons in 2012.
The increase was a reversal in a trend of declining levels that started in 2005 as emissions of greenhouse gases dropped year by year as deforestation fell. However, compared to a peak of 2.86 billion tonnes of CO2 emitted in 2004, the 2013 number is still 45% smaller.