A loss for Jair Bolsonaro in the upcoming presidential election in Brazil could mean that the country’s Amazon deforestation may decrease by 89% over the next decade.
These are the findings of a new analysis led by Carbon Brief, which included researchers at the University of Oxford, the International Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA), and the National Institute for Space Research (INPE).
Bolsonaro will face left-wing Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – commonly known as Lula – in the elections runoff on Oct. 30. In case of a win for current frontrunner Lula, Brazil could avoid 75,960 km2 of Amazon deforestation by the end of the decade, which would, in turn, bring down emissions significantly.
That prediction is based on the assumption that – during this decade – Lula would follow through on his pledge to address illegal deforestation, while Bolsonaro would continue to implement weak environmental policies.
The research models the implementation of the Forest Code, Brazil’s leading legislation regarding Amazon’s deforestation.
Brazil is sixth in the world in terms of emissions, mainly due to CO2 released from deforestation and methane released from cattle.
Since Bolsonaro was elected four years ago, he has weakened existing environmental laws and policies and legitimized illegal activity. That led to 34,018 km2 deforestation in his first three years as president.
This May, the far-right president signed a decree to create a national carbon market in Brazil. Critics, however, say the bill is too vague and fails to address deforestation, which is in fact the leading climate issue in the country.
“The measure is ineffectual. It establishes a registry system but fails to set deadlines,” said Gustavo Pinheiro, an advisory board member at Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. “It is a voluntary regulation, as it does not generate any obligation.”
Bolsonaro’s announcement also bypasses another carbon market proposal that is supported by some of Brazil’s industries and that is making its way through the country’s National Congress.