Supreme Court holds unprecedented hearing on environmental crisis and climate emergency
For the first time, Justice Barroso summons experts and authorities to discuss the environmental crisis under the Bolsonaro government
State of Mato Grosso, 09/13/2020 - Fire in the Pantanal wetlands. The Specialized Police Unit on Crimes Against the Environment (Dema) is investigating who is responsible for starting the fires that caused major wildfires in the Pantanal.
For the first time, the Supreme Court will hold a public hearing to discuss the Brazilian environmental crisis and its implications for combating the climate emergency.
The event will take place on Monday and Tuesday, September 21 and 22, at the request of Justice Luís Roberto Barroso, and will be attended by dozens of authorities and experts from academia, civil society, the private sector and government.
Among the guests are several cabinet ministers, such as Augusto Heleno (Security Office), Ricardo Salles (Environment) and Tereza Cristina (Agriculture), and the speaker of the Lower House of Congress, Rodrigo Maia, and the president of the Senate, Davi Alcolumbre.
Attendance has also been confirmed by the former Environment Minister, Izabella Teixeira; the former director of INPE (National Space Research Institute), Ricardo Galvão; the researcher, Thelma Krug; the indigenous leader, Sônia Guajajara; the UN rapporteur, David Boyd; the former president of the Central Bank, Armínio Fraga; and the chairman of the private bank Itaú Unibanco, Candido Bracher.
The hearing will discuss the environmental policies of the government of Jair Bolsonaro with respect to protecting the environment, in particular the actions to combat deforestation.
Barroso is the rapporteur of a lawsuit filed by the political parties Rede, Psol, PSB and PT, which challenges the inaction of the Ministry of the Environment given the abandonment, since the beginning of the government, of the National Fund on Climate Change – one of the main sources of financing for the fight against global warming in the country.
Established in 2019, the Climate Fund was created to finance actions to combat the effects of the climate emergency using oil royalties and special interest rate loans from the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES). In that year, the program had a budget of R$8 million available for the development of research and projects. At the end of the year, however, only R$718,000 had been committed.
This year, after the lawsuit was filed in the Supreme Court and the announcement of the public hearing, the steering committee of the Fund, which had been dissolved and replaced under the administration of Minister Salles, was convened again and the ministry hurriedly unlocked funding of nearly R$530 million that had been stalled for a year and a half awaiting definitions from the minister.
UN General Assembly
The debate is also occurring ahead of the speech by Bolsonaro in the UN General Assembly, on Tuesday, September 22. The expectation is that the increased fires, deforestation and violence against indigenous peoples in Brazil will be toned down in his speech before the international community.
Recently, on a visit to the state of Paraíba, Bolsonaro said that Brazil is to be congratulated for its environmental protection.
According to data from the INPE, in the first 14 days of September there were more fires in the Amazon that in the whole of the month last year. Until the 16th of September, 23,277 hotspots were registered in the Amazon biome.
Meanwhile, the Pantanal recorded a record number of fires for the month of September in just the first 15 days of the month, devastating an area the size of the city of New York, where the United Nations meeting is taking place.