Biden pledges $500 million to stop deforestation in Brazil

On Thursday, President Biden will pledge $500 million over five years to fight deforestation in Brazil, a White House official said, in a move that would make the United States one of the largest donors to Amazon’s global fund.

But the pledge will require congressional approval, as Republicans overwhelmingly oppose international climate aid and have made it difficult for President Biden to deliver on his promises to help poor countries adapt to climate change.

Brazil’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has been working with the Biden administration on many issues, including climate change, despite Mr. Lula’s criticism of US support for Ukraine in its war with Russia.

Brazil set up the Amazon Fund, a conservation program, in 2008 and has funded efforts to reduce deforestation in the world’s largest rainforest. Norway, the first and largest contributor to the fund, has donated more than $1.2 billion. Germany Recently announced $217 million.

But the fund was suspended under Mr. Lula’s far-right predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, which weakened environmental protection and saw average rates of deforestation soar, reaching levels not seen in more than a decade.

Mr. Lula took office in January promising to end deforestation in the Amazon by 2030. But his administration had a rocky start. Raw data He notes that rates of deforestation have continued to rise, as his administration tries to rebuild environmental protections.

The Amazon plays an important role in regulating water cycles, stabilizing the climate, and absorbing carbon dioxide. By one estimate, there is 150 billion to 200 billion metric tons of carbon locked up in the forest. But with the felling of trees, parts of the forest now emit more carbon dioxide than they absorb.

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The president is expected to announce his pledge at a meeting in Washington that includes representatives from some of the world’s largest economies. The White House said in a fact sheet that the pledge comes “in the context of Brazil’s renewed commitment to ending deforestation by 2030.” The United States is also expected to invite other countries to contribute to the fund.

“That’s a lot of money,” said Suely Araújo, a policy expert with the Climate Observatory, an environmental group in Brazil. “It’s a sign of confidence in the new administration, that they can manage this, and that they are making an effort to control deforestation.”

“I really hope that Congress will agree to this,” Ms. Araujo said. “It’s really essential for what Brazil needs.”

Mr. Biden has pledged $11.4 billion a year in international climate aid by 2024, but so far he’s still far from that goal. Last year, Congress approved just $1 billion — despite Democrats controlling the House and Senate.

“We’re working as hard as we can to try to get to that goal and deliver on the president’s pledge,” said Sarah Ladislao, special assistant to Biden and senior director for climate and energy on the White House National Security Council. .

With Republicans now in control of the House of Representatives and Democrats holding a narrow majority in the Senate, winning approval for additional money for things like the Amazon fund will be an uphill battle.

But in at least one instance, the Biden administration has found a way around the Republican opposition.

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