Brazilian environmental organizations are demanding the U.S. follow through with promised funding for forest protection, and asking that they deal directly with them instead of go through the Brazilian government.
Over 330 parties, including environmental and Indigenous organizations, companies, and activist groups signed a letter which was released late Monday. It is intended to influence a Thursday hearing in the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, wherein the bill called Amazon21 will be discussed. Amazon21, if passed, will create a $9 billion fund in the U.S. State Department to finance forest conservation in developing countries. The bill makes up the lion’s share of the promise President Joe Biden made at the most recent international climate conference, and was introduced in November by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
The signers of the letter want the bill to include measures to ensure “transparent and straightforward financing,” and to seek to deal directly with those already fighting for forest conservation.
The issue is an urgent one – the current administration of Brazil is headed by President Jair Bolsonaro, who openly supports deforestation. During his presidency, the rate of loss of forest in the Amazon has increased by 22%. From summer 2020 to summer 2021, for instance, the Brazilian Amazon lost approximately the square mileage of Connecticut. The year before, when record fires burned in the world’s largest rainforests, accusations alleged he had ordered much of the burning.
There is no trust that, if given access to U.S. funding for reforestation, Bolsonaro would correctly allocate any of it.
The bill itself may not yet come to pass – with Ukraine and domestic climate agenda concerns taking center stage, the Foreign Affairs Committee may not opt to commit so much money to other projects. But if it does, Brazilian environmental organizations and interest groups are hoping this letter will forestall a long, uphill battle in getting that money where it can actually do good.