Brazil's President Rousseff should veto disastrous Forest Code

April 26, 2012


Jennifer Andreassen, 202-288-4867,
(Washington – April 26, 2012) Legislation passed by Brazil’s House of Representatives late Wednesday revising the country’s central forest protection law, the Forest Code, would drastically roll back environmental protection for the Amazon forest and other severely threatened ecosystems if signed into law, said Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) today, echoing Brazilian and international experts.
Brazil, home to about 40% of the world’s rain forests, leads the world in reducing carbon emissions because of its notable achievement in reducing deforestation in the Amazon. However the country is at risk of reversing that trend if President Dilma Rousseff approves the law, which essentially legalizes deforestation on vast amounts of land by giving an amnesty for past illegal deforestation and opening up new land to deforestation.
“Brazil’s historic achievement in reducing Amazon deforestation almost 80% since 2005 is at serious risk,” said Steve Schwartzman, EDF’s Director of Tropical Forest Policy. “Brazil’s Forest Code has been instrumental in the country’s success in curbing carbon emissions, but President Rousseff is now faced with a deeply flawed, probably unenforceable law that would offer near-total amnesty for past illegal deforestation.”
The House passage of the Forest Code represents one of several legislative defeats President Rousseff’s Workers’ Party has suffered at the hands of its governing coalition partners.
Prior to yesterday’s vote, Rousseff had repeatedly declared she would not accept legislation that amnesties past illegal deforestation, and under Brazilian law has the authority to veto parts or all of the House-passed bill. An overwhelming majority of Brazilians wants to stop Amazon deforestation no matter what, according to a public opinion poll taken in the last year. 
“President Rousseff should respect the views of the vast majority of the Brazilian public that wants an end to Amazon deforestation and veto this bill,” Schwartzman said.
Global emissions from deforestation contribute about 15% of greenhouse gas emissions, as much as all the world’s cars, trucks, ships and airplanes combined. Any realistic plan to reduce global warming pollution sufficiently – and in time – to avoid dangerous consequences must rely in part on preserving tropical forests.
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