By Gabriela Gazaniga
In late May 2023, the United Nations officially selected Brazil to host the 2025 climate summit. A country known for its picturesque environment and biodiversity, Brazil’s urban development fuelled by international pressures have significantly damaged its natural ecosystems. Over 60% of the world’s largest rainforest — the Amazon — lies within Brazil’s borders. Deforestation coupled with climate change has destroyed large portions of the Amazon over the last few decades. As developers continue to receive encouragement in exploiting the Amazon, severe consequences are sure to follow.
In fact, negative effects have already been documented, including an increase in both floods and droughts. Trees in the rainforest are crucial to the water cycle; without them, the cycle becomes extremely imbalanced and problematic. This contributes to unpredictable weather patterns which harms natural ecological systems. From a global standpoint, an imbalanced Amazon only exacerbates rising temperatures, sea levels, and overall degradation of the Earth’s workings.
In 2022, the outcome of the Brazilian presidential election brought the return of Lula da Silva, a former president of Brazil elected for a third term. Lula was victorious over Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right incumbent president. As the leader of the political party PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores or the Worker’s Party), Lula is a self-identified leftist and focused his campaign on tackling environmental concerns as well as bettering Brazilian life and the economy. A sharp change from Bolsonaro’s presidency.
Throughout his first 100 days in office, Lula was lacklustre in following through on his promises to develop plans that would fight against deforestation and climate change. Having won the presidential election by a very small margin, approval ratings were not extraordinarily high to begin with. It has now been five months since Lula was sworn in, with approval and disapproval ratings plummeting and increasing, respectively.
On June 5th, 2023 in Brazil’s capital of Brasilia, Lula announced an extensive plan to end deforestation in the Amazon, pledging net zero deforestation by 2030. In essence, Lula’s plan of net zero deforestation means replanting that which has been cut down, returning the Amazon to its former glory. Along with revealing this plan, Lula made further comments regarding significantly reducing carbon emissions and boosting conservation efforts in Brazil.
Since the United Nations officially made Brazil the host of the COP30 summit, it is clear Lula has exponentially ramped up environmental measures. The meeting will be formally held in the city of Belém do Pará, located along the outskirts of the Amazon rainforest. Inarguably, it appears the focal point of the summit will be the Amazon, with everyone’s attention on Lula and how he will carry out these colossal environmental plans. In his own words, “I’ve participated in COPs in Egypt, Paris, Copenhagen and all people talk about is the Amazon. So why not have the COP in the Amazon …”.
However, whilst this is all occurring, Brazil’s Congress has repeatedly made moves to return the country’s environmental measures to how it operated under former president Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro’s presidency was marked by an increase in deforestation and a scrapping of environmental protection. The Brazilian government has long struggled with balancing what its citizens want and financial gain. Although many Brazilian officials may operate under the guise that urban development within the Amazon can boost the country’s economy, it may be time for them to formally assess this theoretical economic value of deforestation.
The COP30 in 2025 may prove to be just what Brazil needs to incentivise support and efforts within its government to protect the Amazon rainforest, pushing Lula’s plans to fruition.