Environment: Germany promises 200 million euros to Brazil

Germany announced on Monday that it was ready to commit a total of 200 million euros to the preservation of the environment in Brazil, including the Amazon, on the sidelines of the visit to Brasilia by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the first Western leader received by the new President Lula.

Mr. Scholz arrived in Brasilia in the afternoon and spoke with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who took office only on January 1, for this last leg of a Latin American tour that took him to Argentina and Chile.

Germany wants to “contribute” with Brazil to the preservation of forests “after these difficult years”, said the Minister for Economic Cooperation Svenja Schulze, during a press conference with the new Brazilian Minister for the Environment, Marina Silva.

She was referring to the four years of President Jair Bolsonaro’s mandate (2019-2022) during which deforestation in the Amazon broke records.

Germany has already announced at the beginning of the year that it would once again top up the Amazon Fund, to the tune of 35 million euros, after the freezing of the fund in 2019 due to the controversies over the environment of the mandate of Bolsonaro.

Berlin will also grant 31 million euros to the Amazonian states of Brazil for “projects for the protection and sustainable use of forests”, added the minister, also announcing a low-interest loan of 80 million euros aid for the reforestation of their land by farmers.

“Brazil is the lungs of the world. If it has problems, we all have to help it,” Ms Schulze said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, left, and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, right, on January 30, 2023 in Brasilia (AFP – Sergio Lima)

Other projects announced include a German contribution to an “energy efficiency guarantee” fund for small and medium-sized enterprises and two “sustainable supply chain” projects.

Berlin also wants to finance a project for the “development of renewable energies, in industry and transport” and, finally, a program for the “reforestation of degraded areas”.

All these projects, including the already known contribution to the Amazon Fund, total some 200 million euros, said the German ambassador to Brazil on Twitter.

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Ms Silva for her part considered that Germany was also ready to “open up markets for the basic products produced in a sustainable way” in the Amazon.

Part of the Amazon Fund, created in 2008, could be allocated to “emergency actions” with indigenous communities, she said, such as the Yanomami, who suffer from undernutrition and infectious diseases due to the increase in illegal gold mining activities on their land.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, left, and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, left, and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, right, on January 30, 2023 in Brasilia (AFP – Sergio Lima)

“We are looking for communities that help Brazil fulfill its Paris Agreement commitment to zero deforestation by 2030, expelling invaders from indigenous lands (….) to achieve sustainable development, said the Brazilian muse of the fight for the environment.

Mr. Scholz was received in the middle of the afternoon at the Planalto Presidential Palace by Lula. His social democratic party, the SPD, has long-standing close ties with the Workers’ Party (PT) co-founded by Lula in the early 1980s.

Berlin, like other European capitals, hopes to turn the page on stormy relations with Bolsonaro in favor of Lula’s return to power.

On the menu of the discussions were to include in particular a return to the rails of the free trade treaty between the European Union and Mercosur – still not ratified since its signature in 2019 – and, in addition to the preservation of the Amazon, the war in Ukraine.

Mr. Scholz is accompanied by a dozen business leaders for this visit to Latin America’s largest economy, and met with big Brazilian bosses in the afternoon.

The EU-Mercosur free trade agreement was never ratified due in particular to concerns about Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policy.

“Our objective is to finally reach a rapid conclusion” of the agreement with Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay), Mr. Scholz had declared in Buenos Aires.

Lula and Mr. Scholz were to give a press conference from 6:30 p.m. (9:30 p.m. GMT).

– “Russian propaganda” –

Regarding the invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Scholz should try to obtain the support of Brazil in the face of Russia. It is “very important” to “dismantle Russian propaganda”, it was said in Berlin.

Brasilia condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the UN but did not adopt economic sanctions against Moscow.

Lula even drew criticism by declaring in December that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “as much responsible” for the conflict as Vladimir Putin.

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