- The region’s leaders are united on an end goal but disagree on how to get there
Energiesnet.com 08 10 2023
The first meeting in 14 years of leaders from the eight countries that share the Amazon basin — Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela — ended without an agreement to eliminate deforestation in the region by 2030, or to suspend new oil exploration.
The meeting in Belem, in the Brazilian state of Para, was seen as a starting point for the eight members of the Amazon Co-operation Treaty Organisation (Acto), despite their failure to reach a consensus on deforestation or oil.
Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who campaigned on a pro-environment platform last year, proposed that the eight participating countries agree to end deforestation in the Amazon by 2030. But Lula was forced to settle for a compromise, as poorer countries within the group baulked at the ambitious target.
Lula reiterated his commitment to reaching zero deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon by 2030, but stressed the need to push a sustainable development agenda for the region, rather than simply transforming the forest into a sanctuary.
In the seven months since Lula took office, deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon basin has fallen by 42.5pc compared with the same period last year. Deforestation is at its lowest for five years, underscoring the success of measures implemented by the new government to strengthen environmental enforcement.
Lula expressed his hope that the eight countries could form a united front at the UN’s forthcoming Cop 28 climate summit, and work together to pressure wealthy countries into financing sustainable development in the region.
And the meeting saw the launch of the Amazon Alliance to Combat Deforestation, which agreed on the urgency of reaching common goals to reduce deforestation and stated that zero deforestation is the “ideal” scenario. In a final joint statement, the Acto members stressed the importance of protecting the forest and keeping it from reaching a “point of no return”. Scientists contend that the forest will no longer be recoverable if deforestation reaches 20-25pc of the total biome.
The participating countries agreed to co-operate on improving security across the region, following increased activity from organised crime in recent years. The member states will create a joint scientific committee to direct climate policy for the region. The final statement also criticised wealthy countries for creating barriers for products from the Amazon because of deforestation, while urging them to finance sustainable development.
Playing it safe
But the declaration failed to include a provision to end oil exploration in the Amazon. Colombian president Gustavo Petro urged leaders to find alternatives to fossil fuels and work together to develop a plan to end oil exploration in the region. The decision to exclude the sticky topic of oil exploration comes as Brazilian government officials debate oil exploration in the equatorial margin.
Brazil’s environmental protection agency Ibama in May denied state-controlled Petrobras’ application for environmental permits to drill exploration wells near the mouth of the Amazon river. Environment minister Marina Silva opposes the project, but governors of states in the region and energy minister Alexandre Silveira are in favour of exploring the region’s oil potential.
argusmedia.com 08 09 2023