President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva proclaims ‘Brazil is back’ at COP27

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Brazil’s President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva vowed to slow deforestation and aggressively tackle climate change at COP27 in Egypt. File Photo by Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA-EFE

Nov. 16 (UPI) — Brazil’s President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is boasting of a strong effort to protect the Amazon Rainforest and battle climate change at COP27.

The former and future president pronounced Brazil “back” at the climate summit in Egypt, flanked by members of the United Nations. He vowed to aggressively tackle deforestation and weed out climate criminals while also voicing support for underdeveloped countries.

“We must stop this rush to the abyss. There is no climate security for the world without a protected Amazon,” he said. “We will do whatever it takes to have zero deforestation and the degradation of our biomes.”

Lula defeated far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s general election in October. He previously served as president from from 2002 to 2011. He will be sworn into office on Jan. 1.

The Amazon Rainforest plays an oversized role in maintaining the global climate, capturing carbon from the atmosphere and supporting one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Deforestation threatens to turn a large portion of the rainforest into a dry savanna. A report published in Nature Climate Change in March says about 75% of the rainforest is at a “tipping point” and losing its ability to rebound from drought and man-inflicted harm.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports about 1.6 million square miles of rainforest have been destroyed since 1990.

Lula’s path to instituting change will not be smooth, according to BBC. He won the presidency by a narrow margin of less than 2%. Under his first presidency, deforestation slowed to a sixth of its pace. During Bolsonaro’s term, which started in 2019, deforestation increased by more than 25%, according to analysis from Carbon Brief, a United Kingdom-based climate watchdog.

The president-elect vowed to protect the land of indigenous people as well. He was cheered by indigenous people in attendance in Egypt after proclaiming to undo the harm done to their land under Bolsonaro’s presidency.

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