Brazilian environmentalist Silva, former PT rival, all-in with Lula against Bolsonaro


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SAO PAULO – Marina Silva, a former environment minister under former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and once his rival, told Reuters she fully supports his campaign and does not rule out a possible role in his government if he wins a third term.

Silva resigned from Lula’s government in 2008, upset by his government’s support for major infrastructure projects in the Amazon, and their reconciliation is a high-profile endorsement to bolster his centre-left coalition ahead of the Oct. 2 vote.

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His support for Lula also shows how even environmentalists skeptical of his ties to Brazilian agribusiness have closed ranks behind him, in an urgent effort to change policies that have skyrocketed deforestation under President Jair Bolsonaro. .

Silva implemented environmental policies under Lula that helped drastically reduce the destruction of the Amazon, but she joined a chorus of environmental critics unhappy with major infrastructure projects in the rainforest like the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam. .

Even with this mixed record, Lula contrasts dramatically with Bolsonaro, who has sharply reduced enforcement of environmental laws in the Amazon, while calling for more mining and agriculture on protected lands. Deforestation of Brazil’s rainforest has peaked in 15 years under his watch.

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In an interview on Thursday, Silva, a three-time presidential candidate who has drawn heavy criticism from the PT in previous campaigns, said “zero” deforestation in the Amazon was entirely within reach, a goal even more ambitious than Lula’s stated goal. net zero deforestation.

While net zero deforestation allows cutting as long as an equal area is replanted elsewhere, no cutting would be allowed under a pure zero deforestation regime.

“It is perfectly possible to return to zero deforestation, to relaunch a plan that once worked, to update that plan, to bring budgets and teams together, to strengthen our enforcement, monitoring and management systems”, said Silva, from the remote rainforest state. of Acre.

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Last week, Silva publicly backed Lula at an event where he committed to a series of policy proposals, including a national authority coordinating the government’s work on climate change.

When asked if she would consider accepting a role as « climate czar, » which Lula pitched, Silva left the door open.

« It’s a decision of the president of the republic, » she said. « Right now, talking about ministries before winning is exactly what we don’t have to do. »

Lula has built a solid lead over Bolsonaro in most polls. If neither candidate wins a majority of votes on Oct. 2, they will face off in a runoff vote on Oct. 30.



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