Brazil’s incoming president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva vowed to reverse the environmentally damaging policies of his predecessor in a speech at the UN climate meeting
16 November 2022
Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was greeted with cheers at the COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, as he declared “Brazil is back” and ready to lead the world on tackling climate change.
Fresh from a narrow election victory earlier this month, Lula vowed to reverse the destruction of the Amazon rainforest that has accelerated under the current president, Jair Bolsonaro.
He promised the conference the Amazon would reach “zero deforestation” by the end of the decade. “There is no climate security for the world without a protected Amazon. We will do whatever it takes to have zero deforestation and degradation of our biomes by 2030,” said Lula.
His new administration will put climate change at the heart of his policy agenda, he said, by cracking down on deforestation, tackling inequality and rolling out renewable energy across the country.
The climate-first policies mark a sharp departure from Bolsonaro’s government, which has spent the past four years dismantling environmental regulations, encouraging development of the forest and stacking key environmental ministries with military allies.
Lula said that level of destruction “will stay in the past”, promising to reverse Bolsonaro’s legacy by strengthening government agencies tackling deforestation. He also said he will create a “ministry of Indigenous and native peoples” to empower communities fighting to protect their forest.
“The fight against climate change will have the highest profile in the structure of my next government,” he said.
However, while Lula received a warm welcome in Egypt, back in Brazil he faces a Congress dominated by right-wing parties that will make delivering his promises a challenge.
The president-elect also announced a bid to host the COP30 climate summit in an Amazonian city in 2025, which would follow next year’s summit in the United Arab Emirates and 2024’s gathering in either Australia or the Czech Republic.
“I advocate very strongly that COP30 should be held in the Amazon region,” he said. “That’s where the conference should be held.”
“Elected president Lula is delivering the message loud and clear that Brazil is firmly back on the climate agenda through his commitment to control deforestation as well as mediate international negotiations,” Mercedes Bustamante at the University of Brasilia in Brazil told journalists at the summit. “The proposal to organise a COP in Brazil clearly signals these substantial changes in the Brazilian position.”
But Lula warned there will be conditions attached to Brazil’s climate leadership. He said “rich countries” will need to step forward and provide more financial support to help developing countries like Brazil take tougher climate action. “We need more resources for a problem that was created by rich countries but is disproportionally felt by the most vulnerable,” he said.
Sign up to our free Fix the Planet newsletter to get a dose of climate optimism delivered straight to your inbox, every Thursday
More on these topics:
Visit our sponsors
Wise (formerly TransferWise) is the cheaper, easier way to send money abroad. It helps people move money quickly and easily between bank accounts in different countries. Convert 60+ currencies with ridiculously low fees - on average 7x cheaper than a bank. No hidden fees, no markup on the exchange rate, ever.