Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will take power from Jair Bolsonaro within six weeks after a tumultuous election.
Speaking to a packed audience at COP27, “Lula,” as he’s known in Brazil, pledged that his government would crack down on illegal deforestation and put Latin America’s largest and most populous nation at the forefront of climate action.
Mr da Silva has made an extraordinary political comeback over the past year after being convicted and jailed for corruption – although his convictions were later overturned by Brazil’s top court, which ruled that the presiding judge was biased and had colluded with prosecutors .
But as Brazil’s head of state between 2003 and 2010, he oversaw a major reduction in deforestation in Brazil’s important rainforest area and has promised to do so again.
After meeting several Brazilian governors, including from key rainforest states such as Amazonia and Para, Mr. da Silva addressed the crowd in a short speech.
“You all know that we are going to fight a great fight against deforestation,” he said to cheers.
Mr da Silva said he would recommend the United Nations to hold the 2025 climate change conference in the Amazon, adding it was time “people who defend the Amazon and the climate got to know the region up close”.
Mr da Silva beat Mr Bolsonaro in October’s elections and will take power from January 1st.
But the transition was turbulent. While Mr Bolsonaro promised to respect the country’s constitution, initially did not clean up after narrowly losing the election to his rival.
Watch Latest Page News correspondent Emma Murphy’s October report on how illegal mining in the Amazon has left remote indigenous communities struggling to survive
Tension days followed last month’s election results, and unrest erupted across the country.
Latest Page News reported, as in Sao Paulo, “Bolsonaristas” gathered by the thousands in front of a military base – ask the soldiers inside to step in to keep him in power.
During his speech, Mr. da Silva took several digs at Mr. Bolsonaro, who has been driving the development of the Amazon, both in his pro-business rhetoric and in the way his government managed the forests.
“Brazil cannot remain as isolated as it has been for the past four years. (Brazil officials) have not traveled to other countries, and no other countries have traveled to Brazil,” he said.
On Tuesday night, Mr da Silva met with US climate chief John Kerry, who told reporters on Wednesday he was pleased the Brazilian politician had “talked about getting it right once and for all and bringing people together to save the Amazon.” to obtain. ”
The Amazon rainforest, which overlaps several nations in South America, is believed to be crucial in combating climate change due to the large amounts of carbon dioxide it absorbs.
Mr. da Silva did not address news reports in Brazil that focused on a possible alliance between Brazil, Congo and Indonesia, home to the world’s largest tropical forests.
Given the nickname “OPEC of Forests” in reference to the organization of petroleum exporting countries and the way they regulate oil production, the general idea would be that these three countries coordinate their negotiating positions and practices on forest management and biodiversity protection .
The proposal was reportedly first unveiled during last year’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
Despite Mr da Silva’s promises, the task ahead of his new administration is huge.
Brazilian leaders have traditionally faced tremendous pressure to develop the Amazon, with lobbying coming from sectors such as agriculture and mining, along with many people living in the rainforest who feel it is up to them to decide how to manage it becomes.
While deforestation fell dramatically in the decade after Mr. da Silva took power, his environmental record as president has been mixed.
Marina Silva, a former childhood rubber tapper who worked closely with assassinated environmental activist and activist for the rights of indigenous people and farmers in the Amazon, Chico Mendes, has been appointed his environment minister.
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But in his second term, Mr. da Silva began looking after agribusiness interests, and in 2008 Ms. Silva resigned. She attends COP27 and is again a candidate for the highest environmental job.
Simone Karipuna, an Amazonian activist who traveled to COP27 and attended Mr da Silva’s speech, was one of several indigenous women who traveled to Sharm el-Sheikh to attend the summit.