Brazil needs compensation if it is to protect the Amazon

Andreea Leonte | 10 September 2019

Millions of hectares of forest are burning, as we watch powerlessly. Siberian wildfires prompted Russia to declare a state of emergency in July, and now the Amazonian rainforest is ablaze. Brazil’s management of the fires has stirred global outrage. But is looking for scapegoats really all that we can do?

The fate of the planet should not rest solely on Brazil’s shoulders. While the Amazon rainforest makes up roughly 40 per cent of Brazil’s territory, the country does not draw much economic advantage from it. President Jair Bolsonaro has drawn criticism for wanting to exploit the Amazon, but asking him to spare the rainforest at all costs, for all time, is just as unfair. Few expect Saudi Arabia to stop drilling for and exporting its oil reserves in the name of cutting carbon emissions.

A fairer approach would be to consider Brazil’s development goals and compensate the country for the economic losses associated with not exploiting the Amazon. Our best chance to save these forests is to make them more valuable to their host countries intact than they would be as agricultural land or mining sites.

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This article has been published by Andreea Leonte, Fellow for China Studies at RISAP, in the Financial Times. You can read the full article on the FT website.

Photo Credits: Fires in the Brazilian Amazon captured by a NASA satellite in August 2019 (Flickr/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

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Andreea Leonte

Andreea Leonte

Andreea Leonte is Fellow for China Studies at RISAP. A Mandarin speaker, Andreea’s research interests focus on China’s foreign relations, China-Europe relations, the Belt and Road Initiative and the China-CEE 16+1 format.

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