Speed Reads

Climate change

Brazil offers to cut deforestation by 40 percent in exchange for $1 billion from U.S.

Brazil says it will cut back on deforestation — for a price.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has sent a proposal to the Biden administration that involves reducing deforestation by 40 percent in exchange for $1 billion, The Wall Street Journal reports. Bolsonaro is often criticized as a "negligent steward" of the vulnerable Amazon rainforest, the Journal notes, but he and others, including residents of the Amazon region, have argued the only way to save the rainforest is by funding "nascent bio-industries" like fish farming "that would provide alternatives to poor farmers who slash and burn to raise crops and cattle."

Ricardo Salles, Brazil's environment minister, said $1 billion is a "reasonable" amount, especially since President Biden mentioned during his campaign last year that he would work to gather $20 billion from around the world to help Brazil fight forest destruction. Salles told the Journal that one-third of the money would finance "specialized battalions" to enforce environmental laws, while the rest would go to the aforementioned sustainable economic activities.

Per the Journal, Brazil believes foreign aid would end deforestation by 2030, but not everyone is buying the talk. "The [Brazilian] government's credibility to collect funds from other governments is entirely damaged," Carlos Rittl, a senior fellow at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability in Germany, told the Journal. "This is a blackmail discourse."

Bolsonaro will be one of around 40 heads of state to participate in a virtual climate summit hosted by Biden on Thursday and Friday. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.