A summit of the Brazilian Amazon ends with a plan to protect the world’s rainforests, but there are no measurable goals

BELIME, BRAZIL (AP) — A summit on the Brazilian Amazon concluded Wednesday with a roadmap to protect tropical rainforests hailed as an important step in tackling climate change, but without the concrete commitments some environmentalists have sought to end deforestation.

Leaders and ministers from eight countries in the Amazon region signed a declaration on Tuesday in Belem, Brazil, laying out plans to advance economic development in their countries while preventing the Amazon’s continued collapse from “reaching a point of no return.”

Several environmental groups have described the ad as a compilation of good intentions with few measurable goals and timeframes. However, it has been praised by others, and the Amazon Indigenous Caucus celebrates the inclusion of two of its main claims.

“It is important that the leaders of the countries of the region listen to the science and understand the call of society: the Amazon is in danger, and we do not have much time to act,” the World Wildlife Fund International said in a statement. . “However, the WWF regrets that the eight countries of the Amazon, as one front, have not reached a common point of ending deforestation in the region.”

Joining the summit on Wednesday were the presidents of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an envoy of the Indonesian president and France’s ambassador to Brazil, representing French Guiana in the Amazon region. It was also attended by an envoy from Norway, the largest shareholder of the Brazilian Amazon Fund for Sustainable Development.

On Wednesday, the national representatives signed an agreement similar, but of a lesser scale, to that of their counterparts the day before; Nor does it contain concrete targets and has mostly reinforced criticisms of developed countries for failing to deliver on the broad climate financing that was promised.

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The eight countries attending on Tuesday — Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela — are members of the newly revived Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, or ACTO, which hopes a united front will give them a key voice in global environment talks ahead of the COP 28 climate conference in November.

The summit advances Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s strategy to increase global interest in preserving the Amazon. A. encouraged him 42% reduction in deforestation During his first seven months in office, he sought international financial support to protect the forests.

Speaking to reporters after Wednesday’s meeting, Lula criticized “protectionist measures poorly masquerading as environmental concerns” that restrict imports from developing countries, and said developed countries should honor their pledges of monetary support to protect forests.

“Nature, which has polluted industrial development for 200 years, needs them to pay their share so we can revive part of what was destroyed. Nature needs the money,” Lula said.

The Amazon region extends across an area twice the size of India. Two-thirds of it is located in Brazil, while seven other countries and the territory of French Guiana share the remaining third. It has historically been considered by governments as an area to be colonized and exploited, with little regard for the sustainability or rights of its indigenous peoples.

All Amazons have it It ratified the Paris Climate Agreement, which requires the signatories to set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But cross-border cooperation has historically been minimal, undermined by low trust, ideological differences, and an absence of government presence.

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ACTO members — who met for only the fourth time in the organization’s 45-year existence — showed on Tuesday that they were not entirely aligned on key issues.

Forest protection commitments have been mixed. And their joint declaration did not include a joint commitment to no deforestation by 2030, as some had hoped. Brazil and Colombia have already made this commitment.

Some scientists say that when 20% to 25% of the forest is destroyed, rainfall will drop dramatically, turning more than half of the rainforest into tropical savannah, with a massive loss of biodiversity.

The Climate Observatory, a network of dozens of environmental and social groups, as well as Greenpeace and The Nature Conservancy, lamented the lack of detailed pledges in the declaration.

“The declaration’s 113 operating paragraphs have the advantage of reviving a forgotten ACTO and recognizing that the biome is reaching a point of no return, but offering no practical solutions or agenda for avoiding it,” said the Climate Observatory. in the current situation.

Colombian indigenous leader Fanny Cuero, of the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations in the Amazon Basin, hailed the declaration for meeting two of their core requests – recognition of their rights to traditional lands and the creation of a mechanism for formal participation of indigenous peoples. within ACTO.

Bruna Santos, director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center, said the summit demonstrated “an effort to treat the Amazon as a regional agenda,” but also highlighted ambiguities in the Brazilian government’s priorities, including with regard to oil exploration. .

The Colombian president has spoken forcefully of the hypocrisy of pressing for the preservation of the Amazon while pursuing oil, equating it with betting on “death and the destruction of life.”

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Lula declined to take a final position on oil, citing the decision as a technical issue. Meanwhile, Brazil’s state-run Petrobras is pursuing it Oil exploration near the mouth of the Amazon River.

Despite the disagreements, there have been signs of increased regional cooperation and growing global recognition of the importance of the Amazon in stopping climate change. The leaders said a collective vote — along with funneling more money into ACTO — could help it act as the region’s representative on the global stage ahead of the COP climate conference.

Anders Haug Larsen, Head of International Advocacy at Rainforest Foundation Norway, said the Amazon countries are right to demand more money from developed countries, and that their political will to protect the rainforest represents a historic opportunity.

“With the plan of this summit and the continued reduction of deforestation, this is where the international community should put its climate money,” he said.

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The Associated Press’s climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. Learn more about the AP’s climate initiative here. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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