After four tumultuous years under the far-right rule of President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazilian voters narrowly elected the leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known simply as Lula, to lead the country as its next president.
Environmental advocates worldwide have celebrated the news as a major victory - especially for the Amazon rainforest, which serves as an important carbon sink and fosters millions of species, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth. Under Bolsonaro, often referred to as Brazil's Trump, Amazon deforestation spiked to record levels by expanding agriculture, logging, and illegal mining - let rip by Bolsonaro's view that the Amazon existed to be exploited. Approximately 17 percent of the Amazon is now gone.
Lula, who previously led Brazil as president from 2003 to 2010, pledged in his victory speech to reverse this degradation of the 'planets lungs', saying: “Brazil is ready to resume its leading role in the fight against the climate crisis, protecting all our biomes, especially the Amazon rainforest.” The good news is that he has good form on this, overseeing a significant decline in deforestation during his previous time as president.
A recent analysis conducted for Carbon Brief estimates that if Lula follows through with pledges to combat illegal deforestation, his victory could slash Amazon deforestation by 89 percent over the next decade - saving an area slightly larger than the Republic of Ireland or slightly smaller than the U.S. state of South Carolina.
However, it won't be easy. Bolsonaro’s right-wing Liberal Party, a major ally to the agribusinesses driving Amazon deforestation, still controls the Brazilian Congress, and the country is in the middle of an economic crisis. But, at last, there are reasons for some optimism.
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