President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) threatened to disclose the list of countries that import illegal timber and tried to label those countries that are pressuring Brazil to reduce deforestation rates guilty of devastating the Amazon. “These countries have partial responsibility in this matter,” said the President on Tuesday (17) at a meeting of the BRICS.
It would be a good argument if it were not for the explicit justification of Europeans who have already admitted that they are part of the problem in expressing their concern.
Bolsonaro therefore makes clear the reason for European concerns about deforestation in the Amazon and takes up a discourse that comes closer to the questions raised by foreigners.
The pressure from European leaders comes, after all, from their consumers and voters, critics of consumption in the context of deforestation. The pressure that led the UK supermarket chain Tesco to join Greenpeace to criticize the meat produced in Brazil came from them. The action led the UK to pass a law requiring its companies to ensure that their imports are not linked to deforestation.
Far beyond wood, meat, soy and soy oil are risky goods in the Brazilian case, as are cocoa, leather, rubber and palm oil in other regions of the world.
Even Germany, which has an interest in expanding trade relations with Brazil, has expressed concerns about the trade agreement with Mercosur, which has stalled in the European Parliament, precisely because of its effects on deforestation in the Amazon.
After all, facilitating trade with a country that does not offer environmental guarantees for its product would have the direct consequence of promoting uncontrolled deforestation. And it is precisely this responsibility that Europeans are trying to eliminate by not voting on the trade deal while looking for laws like the British Project to protect their imports.
The draft clarifying the reasons for Brazil’s environmental criticism mainly serves the Bolsonar audience. The audience for the president’s speeches had the opportunity to hear from Bolsonaro a more realistic version of international relations, which also debunks Bolsonaro’s unfounded conspiracy theories, such as the hypothesis that these countries want to internationalize the Amazon and trample on Brazilian sovereignty .
Without meaning to, Bolsonaro invalidates his fable about the threat to national sovereignty by revealing that Europeans “bear responsibility in this matter” and therefore give their opinion, criticize and even fund solutions as they are about the Amazon Fund did. As president of the country that owns most of the Amazon, he did not mention his government’s responsibilities.
International criticism has increased vehemence since Brazil was ruled by an anti-environmental project that dismantled the structures of environmental control and inspection across the country.
The deregulation of environmental policy has even gained its own slogan in the government: “Pass the Cattle”.
In March, after the Reuters agency announced that Brazil was exporting thousands of timber loads from the Amazon in 2019 without a permit from Ibama, the agency’s president decided to remove the permit requirement.
The Environment Minister Ricardo Salles in turn exonerated the general coordinator for the monitoring of the use of biodiversity and foreign trade, André Sócrates de Almeida Teixeira, who spoke out against the export of wood without a permit.
The minister also considered the possibility of exporting fresh timber, ie logs – a request from President Bolsonaro for loggers.
The illegal timber trade does not depend on a secret market as it arises from the fraud of the information contained in permits such as the DOF, the document of the origin of the forest, necessary for the transportation of the timber. In other words, the buyer acquires the wood legally and has little knowledge of whether the origin is illegal.
The control over the origin increased with the standardization of the data by Sinaflor (National System for Control of the Origin of Forest Products). It was created by Ibama in 2017 and identifies the origin of each protocol as well as the person responsible for managing the area.
However, the “heated” timber trade remains a major driver of deforestation while enforcement is intensifying and the imposition of fines is completely paralyzed. According to a survey by the Climate Observatory based on the Access to Information Act, no new environmental fines were imposed last year.
In addition to the list of importers, the President has all the information needed to combat illegal logging: from satellite monitoring by Inpe to Ibama’s information on critical areas and field operations.
Instead of using these public funds to fight the organized crime that is systematically destroying Brazil’s environmental heritage, the president opted for a project to destroy environmental control posts. This debt cannot be exported.