Bloomberg — Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva offered to host UN climate talks in the Amazon in 2025, saying that the country will be prioritizing the preservation of the world’s largest tropical rainforest.
Lula, as the politician is known, is on his first international trip since beating President Jair Bolsonaro in elections last month. In contrast to Lula’s position, Bolsonaro weakened protection for the world’s biggest rainforest in favor of economic development.
“I’m here in front of all of you to tell you that Brazil is back,” he said in a speech at the COP27 talks in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, standing among governors of Brazil’s Amazon states, and in front of an enthusiastic crowd that chanted his name. “Brazil can’t be isolated as it was in the last four years.”
Under outgoing Bolsonaro, deforestation rates in the Amazon soared to record highs. At least some parts of it have stopped capturing greenhouse gases and have become now contributors to global warming, according to scientific research. In his speech at COP27, Lula vowed to reverse some of that.
“We are going to fight strongly against illegal deforestation,” he said. “We’re going to create the Ministry of Indigenous People so that they’re not treated as criminals by the industries — be prepared for that.”
The president-elect will address COP27 from the main stage on Wednesday and said he will also be speaking with UN Secretary General António Guterres to put Brazil forward as the host country for COP30 talks in 2025. The summit should take place in a state in the Amazon, he said.
“People who defend the climate should know closely what that region is,” he said. “We should change the way people discuss the Amazon from a concrete reality and not only from the books.”
Lula drew one of the liveliest crowds at UN-sponsored climate talks in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, with hundreds of not only journalists and activists, but also indigenous people dressed in traditional clothes waiting for as long as three hours for the president-elect’s arrival. As he entered the room, they sang to the tune of soccer chants: “Olé, Olé, Olé, Lula Lula!”
The federal government will engage in dialogue with governors and mayors as part of an effort to implement its policies to protect the Amazon, Lula said.
“We can’t prevent the fires if we don’t have the commitments of the mayors — the mayors know the city where the land is,” he said. “We shouldn’t discuss from Brasilia, it’s important to go to the ground.”
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