Chancellor Ernesto Araújo says he feels good in the state of international pariah, accompanied by Donald Trump’s USA. If Joe Biden wins on Tuesday (3), his nationalist pride will be subjected to a stress test that begins with increased pressure on President Jair Bolsonaro to reverse his environmental degradation policies.
Without Trump’s support, Bolsonaro will have to continue speaking to himself in global theater by denying the importance of climate change. Or at most with the most backward leaders in the world with whom he has teamed up – several Arab oil potentates, not by chance – to sign a declaration on women’s health that is even incompatible with Brazilian law.
Until the difficult first debate with Trump on September 29, Biden appeared to be ignoring the Amazon. He was then surprised by the promise to bring other countries together and offer them US $ 20 billion to Brazil to stop the clearing of tropical forests, which would otherwise have “significant economic consequences” for the country.
Bolsonaro reacted, as he knows, aggressively. On a social network, he wrote in capital letters that Brazilian sovereignty was non-negotiable, that he would not accept bribes or threats. No wonder for a president who had the diplomatic ruthlessness to celebrate Trump’s victory.
There are reasons to doubt that Biden’s financial promise will be fulfilled. On the page where he presents his environmental and climate plans (joebiden.com/climate-plan), the Democratic candidate does not mention Brazil or the Amazon, although he cites Chile, Canada and the Caribbean, and does not offer, Paying directly to reduce deforestation (he says) only in fulfilling US financial commitment to solve global warming (put in the freezer by Trump).
Barack Obama’s vice president only threatens to “name global climate criminals and bring them to justice”. A democratic government would produce a report highlighting the countries that are missing from their commitments in the Paris Agreement, using the example of what the United States is already doing with human rights and trafficking rankings.
Talking is easy, paying is another 500. Wealthier countries never met the 2009 target of spending $ 100 billion a year on developing countries to fight climate change. This goal is to be achieved in 2020. In 6 of the 10 years that have passed, the American President was Obama and his deputy was Biden.
The imaginative carrot worth 20 billion US dollars for the Amazon was accompanied by the exhibition of the stick common in American, Democratic or Republican foreign policy, the “economic consequences” (like those that friend Trump inflicted on Brazil under Bolsonaro). Biden would not hesitate to put barriers on Brazilian products, especially if it enabled him to distinguish himself as tough and virtuous in the face of nature’s predators.
Even if no sanctions are imposed, the rhetorical guerrilla against the outlaw is already causing and will cause more damage to the national economy. It is no other reason why modernized sectors of export of agribusinesses and big banks have fallen off the wall and started to defend the end of the policy of environmental degradation.
The expected benefits of an agreement between the European Union and Mercosur are at stake precisely because the Bolsonaro government insists on treating deforestation as a publicity issue or as an image problem – when the important images come from satellites.
The military doctrine that denunciations of destruction are part of a conspiracy to internationalize the Amazon and gain access to natural wealth does not withstand the lens of remote sensing. There won’t be a flyover across the jungle that will change how foreigners view deforestation as data from the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) is available for those who don’t refuse to face reality.
Trump and Bolsonaro live and act in another world; Biden, no. The return in the US to evidence-based political practice, not just ideological constructions, could give new impetus to the international negotiations on climate change that have been taking place since the 1992 Rio Summit.
It might be good news for Brazil, but under Bolsonaro the country turned around and gave up its role until the Paris Conference (2015). Worse, it neglects and even promotes the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and other biomes such as the Cerrado and Pantanal.
Environment Minister Ricardo Salles’ policies have rekindled the furnace that makes land use change – the conversion of forests into pastures – the main national source of carbon emissions. As a result, initiatives to boycott Brazilian raw materials such as soybeans and beef are proliferating.
If Trump stays in power, Brazil can still count on political collusion and the illusion of economic benefits that ideological partnership will never achieve. With Biden’s eventual victory, the outcast becomes a scapegoat for the international community to create the impression that they are finally mobilizing in the face of the challenge of climate change.