President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva told the world that ‘Brazil is back’ at COP27, vowing to start undoing the environmental destruction seen under his far-right predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, and work towards zero forest deforestation Amazon rainforest.
Followed by a carnival atmosphere everywhere he went on Wednesday, Lula told the climate summit his new administration would go further than ever on the environment by cracking down on illegal gold mining, logging and agricultural expansion and restoring climate-critical ecosystems.
In his first major foreign speech since winning the election, Lula said Brazil did not need to clear another hectare of rainforest to become a major agricultural producer and that he would use his presidency to ask rich countries to deliver on the pledge of $100 billion in climate finance. for developing countries and to create a fund for the compensation of losses and damages.
Punctuated by chants of “olé, olé, olé, ola, Lula, Lula”, the president-elect’s speech brought a much-needed sense of hope to COP27. Top Brazilian environmental figures were always nearby, including climate scientist Carlos Nobre whose studies warn the Amazon is about to cross an irreversible tipping point, and former environment minister Marina Silva who oversaw a huge decline in deforestation during Lula’s first presidency.
“Today I am here to say that Brazil is ready to unite once again to unite [the] efforts to build a healthier planet. Brazil has just concluded its elections, one of the most decisive in its history. It was followed unprecedentedly by other countries. It could help check the rise of the authoritarian right and climate deniers around the world,” Lula said.
Of the impact of the climate crisis, he said “no one is safe”, detailing the consequences of global warming. “In the United States they live with increasingly powerful tropical storms and hurricanes… In Brazil, which is a forest and hydrological powerhouse, we have experienced devastating droughts and floods. Europe faces extreme heat with fires and unprecedented deaths. And although it is the continent with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions, Africa has droughts in Chad, Kenya and Somalia. I repeat: no one is safe.
In a speech that ranged from inequality to reforming the United Nations Security Council, Lula placed a lot of emphasis on building partnerships. He promised to work with other Amazonian countries — including Peru, Colombia, Guyana and Venezuela — to work toward sustainable development in the region while also protecting key ecosystems early in his presidency.
“There is no planetary security without a protected Amazon. We will do whatever it takes to eliminate deforestation and degradation of our biomes. For this reason, I would like to announce that efforts to combat climate change will have top priority in my next government. We will prioritize the fight against deforestation of all our biomes and reverse the damage caused by the previous government in recent years,” Lula said.
Across the world, he highlighted Brazil’s new partnership with Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo – the big three rainforest nations – to work together on their conservation.
“The planet is warning us all the time that we need each other to survive. We alone are vulnerable to climate tragedy. Yet we have ignored these warnings… We have spent trillions of dollars which result only in destruction and death. We live in a moment in which we have multiple problems: nuclear war, food supply crises, energy, biodiversity erosion, inequality… These are difficult times. But it has always been in difficult times that humanity has overcome challenges. We need more trust,” she said.
“More resources are needed for a problem which was created by the rich countries but which is disproportionately felt by the most vulnerable… I would like to remind you that the rich countries have said they will raise $100 billion at COP15 in Copenhagen to help the least developed countries deal with climate change.
“We need financial mechanisms to repair the losses and damages caused by climate change. We cannot postpone this debate. We have to face the reality of countries having to protect the territorial integrity of their threatened countries. It’s time to act. We cannot live with this race towards the abyss”.
There were queues at the Egyptian desert venue for Lula’s speech an hour before it began, and a packed hall was also packed. In a side event earlier that day, he said Brazil should host COP30 in 2030 in the Amazon, in part to show its importance to the world.