Prosecutors have launched an inquiry into a fatal accident at Anglo American’s port in northern Brazil, fearing it may also have caused environmental damage in the Amazon region.
Antônio Carlos Marques Cardoso, prosecutor of the republic in the state of Amapá where the incident occurred, told the Financial Times he had opened a civil investigation on Monday, which could lead to possible fines.
Three workers died and another three are still missing after a landslide at the Santana port on Thursday night dragged trucks, cranes and other mining machinery into the Amazon river.
Landowners who broke Brazil’s environmental laws by clearing their farms of native forest used to have just one way to make right with government inspectors: plant trees. Now, they can clear their names by just pointing and clicking.
After decades trying to protect rapidly shrinking forest, Brazil has turned to the digital world and launched a new platform called BVRio that allows growers with more untouched forest on their land than is legally required to sell “quotas” to farmers who fall short, one hectare at a time, for a price that will be determined by supply and demand.
From environmentalists to landowners, all sides agree the privately developed tool could revolutionize Brazil’s ability to protect the world’s biggest rainforest while enforcing the country’s just-enacted environmental law.
Brazil expects to see its lowest rates of illegal deforestation since 1988 by the end of this year.
Minister of Environment Izabella Teixeira said the government will reduce the annual chopping and burning of the Amazon rainforest to between 4,000 and 5,000 square kilometers. The figures will be announced in the run-up to this year’s U.N. climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico, this December.
The Amazon clearing is a far cry from the 24,000 square kilometers the so-called “lungs of the Earth” lost in the beginning of this decade. But, Teixeira said, it’s also not enough.
“OK, you did this, yes, we are so great,” the minister said in a self-mocking flourish at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Brazil Institute. But, she added with seriousness, “this challenge is not the only one.”
Outside Dr Gilberto Câmara’s office, there is a large and beautiful satellite map of Brazil. From the fractal elegance of the Amazon and its tributaries, to the ochre fields holding sugar, soy and cattle, to the twinkling mega-cities of São Paolo and Rio de Janeiro in the south, the map shows why he thinks Brazil can be the world’s first environmental superpower.
Cãmara leads Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). His startling claim, he explains in his easy English, rests on turning a piece of standard economic theory on its head. Nations develop their economies by moving up the value chain, away from churning out commodities and towards manufacturing, say the textbooks. Brazil has abundant natural resources, so the key to prosperity is to start making stuff, right? Wrong, he says, because of the “China effect“.
China mass manufactures at rock bottom prices, with the consequence that over the past two decades the cost of manufactured goods has fallen fast, while demand has pushed up cost of the commodities used to make the goods.
“When international climate negotiators convene next month in Copenhagen, Brazilian politician Marina Silva will serve as the conference’s unofficial philosopher-activist. A native Amazonian who grew up in a community of rubber-tappers, Silva worked with murdered Amazonian activist Chico Mendes, won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 1996 and served as Brazil’s minister of the environment under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from 2002 to 2008. She spoke with Washington Post environment reporter Juliet Eilperin during a recent visit to Washington; Stephan Schwartzman of the Environmental Defense Fund translated from the Portuguese.”
How much would it cost to stop increasing greenhouse gas emissions in Mexico? According to a new study from the World Bank, not very much.
The report is one of six studies on low-carbon growth in emerging economies that the bank has been carrying out — though it is the only one likely to be ready before the United Nations climate change conference next month in Copenhagen. The other analyses — for China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia – have been stalled by bureaucracy or by governments’ reluctance to provide data ahead of the global negotiations, according to the bank.
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva spoke as an official guest at the opening ceremony of the 13th Summit of the African Union (AU), a gathering of all the African heads of state in Sirte, Libya, this Wednesday.
In keeping with an official theme of the summit, agricultural development, Lula pledged to help the African countries carry out their “green revolution.”
“I reiterate the promise that my government made to help Africa promote its own ‘green revolution.’ This revolution will take place only with support from subsistence farmers and the creation of jobs and higher salaries in the countryside,” said Lula.
“The Brazilian experience shows that productivity in small agriculture and the sustainable production of foodstuffs are fundamental steps in eradicating hunger.”
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