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Why Is Norway Threatening Brazil?

Jul 25 2017 Comments 0

Norway has threatened to cut its lucrative funding to Brazil’s Amazon salvation fund, in the event that deforestation of the sector continues to increase. The Scandinavian nation has its own plentiful supplies of oil but sees the Amazon rainforest as key to limiting the damaging effects of climate change.

With that in mind, the Norwegian government have donated in excess of $1.1 billion USD (almost £850 million) to the fund since 2008. However, a rise in deforestation over the last couple of years has prompted Norway to threaten removing that funding should it continue.

The Amazon key to curbing climate change

Deforestation, brought about by clearing the land for agriculture and farming, as well as for using the wood as timber, is seen as one of the main contributing factors to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Furthermore, as one of the world’s largest rainforests, the Amazon is a vital extractor of carbon dioxide (CO2) from our atmosphere.

As part of its obligations to the Paris climate agreement, Brazil has pledged to reduce the deforestation that has ravaged the Amazon over recent decades. Between 2008 and 2014, Brazil appeared to be in pole position to meet that promise, reducing the extent of deforestation at a continually steady rate.

However, in 2012 it was feared that changes to the Forest Code could reduce protection of the Amazon, and in succeeding years those fears have been partially realised. In 2015 it started to rise again, while the following year it jumped up by a further 29% to 8,000km2.

While that figure is far below the peak of 19,000km2 of 2005, the Norwegian authorities are keen to ensure that further increases do not happen.

A stern warning

In a letter from the Norwegian environment minister Vidar Helgesen to his Brazilian counterpart José Sarney Filho, the country has made its stance abundantly clear.

“In 2015 and 2016 deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon saw a worrying upward trend,” he chastised, pointing out that those increases had already resulted in reduced funding from the Scandinavian country. “Even a fairly modest further increase would take this number to zero.”

It’s believed that the threshold in question is 8,500km2 - that’s just 500km2 more than the current figure. For their part, the Brazilians are adamant that the latest data suggests deforestation to have eased off this year, despite mass protests against the environmental policy of President Michel Temer.

“I have made every effort to maintain the course of sustainability with determination and political will,” was Filho's response. Speaking of the data which the government has to hand, he said that it “indicates that we may have stagnated the upward curve of deforestation. We hope that the new data will soon point to a downward trend.”

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