Norway nixes support until Brazil reduces Amazon deforestation
Norway has paid $1.2bn into the Amazon Fund so far, but under President Jair Bolsonaro, rainforest destruction has surged
Oslo — Brazil must demonstrate it can reduce the ongoing deforestation in the Amazon before Norway will resume payments in support of preserving the world’s largest rainforest, the Norwegian environment minister has said.
Norway worked closely with Brazil to protect the vulnerable ecosystem between 2008 and 2018, paying $1.2bn into the Amazon Fund, which pays Brazil to prevent, monitor and combat deforestation. Oslo has been the biggest donor by far.
But rainforest destruction has surged since Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January 2019, weakening enforcement and calling for development of the Amazon, and also changing the fund’s governance.
Still, earlier this month, Brazil sought $1bn in aid over a 12-month period from countries including the US and Norway to help reduce deforestation by between 30% and 40%.
Oslo, which in 2019 froze funds worth more than 5-billion Norwegian krone ($585m), said talks with Brazil are ongoing.
“The conditions for a reopening and making these funds available is that deforestation decreases substantially and that agreement is reached regarding the governance structure of the Amazon Fund,” Norway’s minister of climate and environment Sveinung Rotevatn said.
He also recently spoke with Brazil’s minister of environment Ricardo Salles. “I noted that he says he wants to strengthen the police efforts against illegal deforestation. These are measures that have had a great effect in the past, and which can also be decisive in the time to come,” Rotevatn said.
In addition to a rich biodiversity, tropical forests soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide, making their preservation vital to the combat of man-made climate change.
Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest declined overall in the first quarter of 2021, preliminary data showed last week, but the measures are uncertain and experts also point to a concerning jump in destruction in March.
Despite the freezing of funds, Norway is contributing a limited amount of some 50-million krone for upholding the law in the Amazon under a previously launched project.
“We stand ready to further support this work when we see reduced deforestation and a display of political will on the Brazilian side,” Rotevatn said.
Bolsonaro is among the 40 world leaders invited to US President Joe Biden’s April 22-23 summit on climate change.
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