comscore Brazil toughens environmental fines in reaction to a lawsuit | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Top News

Brazil toughens environmental fines in reaction to a lawsuit

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro attends a ceremony marking Army Day at Army headquarters in Brasilia, Brazil, on April 19.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro attends a ceremony marking Army Day at Army headquarters in Brasilia, Brazil, on April 19.

RIO DE JANEIRO >> After a series of measures that weakened Brazil’s environmental laws, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has signaled an about-face, signing a decree Tuesday relating to crimes involving the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

The new legislation increases fines for people who provide false information for logging license applications and forest concessions. On the other hand, it does not address pressing issues that have made punishment difficult, such as the fact that fines are allowed to expire without being paid.

Suely Araújo, senior public policy specialist at the Climate Observatory, a network of environmental groups, says that the decree is a response to a lawsuit in the Supreme Court that accuses the Bolsonaro government of ceasing to prosecute environmental crimes.

At the center of the lawsuit are ‘reconciliation centers’ Bolsonaro created in 2019 where environmental offenders may contest their fines. Environmentalists have harshly criticized these.

The centers led to a sharp reduction in environmental fines, a fact that’s been celebrated as an achievement by Bolsonaro, who promised to stop what he called the “fining industry” during his election campaign.

“We stopped having big problems with the environmental issue, especially regarding fines. Do they have to exist? Yes, but we talked, and we reduced the fines in agriculture by more than 80%,” he bragged in January during an official event.

But the decree “is like applying a band-aid to a broken bone,” says Araújo, who headed up Brazil’s environment regulatory agency but resigned at the beginning of Bolsonaro’s term.

At a time when environmental crimes are exploding, enforcement is down and punishment procedures are chaotic, “this decree means absolutely nothing,” she said.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon broke records for April, with new records also set in January and February this year. Satellite alerts for deforestation for April corresponded to more than 1,000 square kilometers (nearly 400 square miles).

Comments (0)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up