The environment ministry in Brazil has fired the director and deputy director responsible for its climate change programs, at a moment when the international community is looking more closely at the climate impact of the country’s moves to clearcut the Amazon rainforest.
“It’s appalling, but hardly surprising,” said Claudio Angelo, communications manager at the country’s Climate Observatory. “There is no federal climate policy being formulated or implemented in Bolsonaro’s Brazil, which tells us a lot about how seriously this government takes the Paris Agreement.”
The extremist national government under President Jair Bolsonaro, aka “Capitão Motoserra” (Captain Chainsaw), “had already reduced the emphasis on climate change within the ministry, turning a vice-minister-level role on climate change into a directorship,” Reuters reports. “Bolsonaro has also appointed key officials who question the science behind climate change. Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo has called it a Marxist conspiracy. Environment Minister Ricardo Salles has said he is not sure if global warming is man-made.”
Now, “a person close to the ministry said there was no longer staff assigned to the directorate that oversees climate change, as the positions remain vacant for now,” the news agency adds.
Reuters says the firings follow tensions within the Brazil delegation to last year’s United Nations climate conference, COP 25, in Madrid. “Sources told Reuters that Salles had left senior climate negotiators in the dark about the government’s aims in the talks and described infighting between officials from the Environment Ministry and Foreign Ministry,” the news report states. “Foreign leaders and environmentalists condemned the policies of the Bolsonaro government last year when deforestation and fires in the Amazon rainforest surged, blaming the president’s rhetoric for emboldening loggers, ranchers, and land grabbers.”