Amazon leaders fail to commit to end deforestation by 2030
Lula, the president of Brazil, speaks to his minister of Indigenous peoples, Sonia Guajajara, at the Amazon summit. Photograph: Ricardo Stuckert/Brazilian presidency/AFP/Getty
Eight South American presidents including Brazil’s Lula say rich countries need to pledge more resources to help protect rainforest
Tom Phillips in Belém, Patrick Greenfield and agencies
Amazon leaders have called on rich countries to help them develop a Marshall-style plan to protect the world’s largest rainforest – but stopped short of committing to zero deforestation across the biome by 2030 amid divisions over oil extraction.
In a joint declaration at the end of a two-day summit in the Brazilian city of Belém on Wednesday, the eight South American countries that are home to the Amazon rainforest said ensuring its survival could not be solely up to them, as resources from the forest were consumed globally.
Members of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization did not agree a shared commitment to end deforestation this decade, which had been hoped for in the run-up to the regional meeting.
The countries were unable to agree a united position on the role of extractive industries in the region such as beef, oil and mining, which are the primary drivers of its destruction.
But they signalled they would work together to ensure the forest’s survival through sustainable economic development, appealing for extra resources from industrialised countries to do so before Cop28. Brazil and Colombia have reported falling deforestation rates under new leadership in the past 12 months.
In the declaration, Amazon leaders called for debt relief in exchange for climate action, agreed to strengthen regional law enforcement cooperation to crack down on human rights violations, illegal mining and pollution, and urged industrialised countries to comply with obligations to provide financial support to developing countries.
The Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, told delegates at the closing of the summit: “The forest unites us. It is time to look at the heart of our continent and consolidate, once and for all, our Amazon identity.
“The Amazon is our passport to a new relationship with the world, a more symmetric relationship, in which our resources are not exploited to benefit few, but rather valued and put in the service of everyone.”The Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, has called for an end to the search for fossil fuels in the Amazon, which are the primary driver of global heating, but Brazil, Venezuela and other oil producers did not agree.
Lula has so far not taken a definitive stance on oil as Brazil’s state-run Petrobras seeks permission to explore for oil near the mouth of the Amazon River. Guyana is on track to become a big oil producer in the coming years.
“A jungle that extracts oil – is it possible to maintain a political line at that level? Bet on death and destroying life?” Petro said at the meeting, discussing ways to help reforest pasture and plantations that have been previously cleared.
Marcio Astrini, the executive secretary of the Climate Observatory group, said he had mixed feeling3s about a declaration that was weaker than many environmentalists had hoped for.The planet’s most important stories. Get all the week’s environment news – the good, the bad and the essential
“It’s a first step. It was important for [these leaders] to come together but there isn’t much concrete in there. It’s a list of very generic promises. It was lacking something more forceful,” he added.
“We’re living in a world which is melting. We are breaking temperature records all the time. How can it be that in a 22-page declaration the presidents of eight Amazon countries can’t clearly state that deforestation needs to stop?”
The Bolivian president, Luis Arce, who has not backed a global agreement to end deforestation this decade and had the third highest amount of forest loss in 2022, said the Amazon had been the victim of capitalism.
He reflected on runaway expansion of agricultural borders and natural resource exploitation, noting that industrialised countries were responsible for most historical greenhouse gas emissions.
Arce said: “The fact that the Amazon is such an important territory does not imply that all of the responsibilities, consequences and effects of the climate crisis should fall to us, to our towns and to our economies,.”
Brazil has made other agreements on protecting rainforests, signing a cooperation agreement with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia for biodiversity and climate UN Cops in a so-called Opec for rainforests.…