GUY Verhofstadt has urged the European Union to use its influence to meddle in Jair Bolsonaro’s plans to use more of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest for commercial projects in a bid to kickstart the country’s economy.
The new Brazilian president has issued an executive order to make the agriculture ministry responsible for deciding on lands claimed by indigenous people. Mr Bolsonaro’s move comes as a huge boost for Brazil’s agricultural businesses but has already enraged environmentalists in the process. Mr Verhofstadt, who leads a group of liberals in the EU Parliament, has urged Brussels to ensure Brazil upholds the Paris Climate Accord, an international agreement signed to provide a long-term framework for limiting the effects of climate change.
Writing on Twitter, the MEP said: “Jair Bolsonaro's presidency is a threat to the Amazon rain forest, the world's lungs, when we need them the most!
“I hope the EU will encourage Brazil to maintain its commitments under the Paris climate agreement. There is ‘no planet B’.”
Mr Bolsonaro, who was inaugurated as Brazil's new president on January 1, said the country would reconsider its position in the Paris climate agreement during his leadership campaign.
He hinted Brazil could follow Donald Trump's lead by exiting the climate pact, which seeks to limit deforestation as a potential method to reduce worldwide carbon emissions.
Mr Bolsonaro's temporary decree, which will expire unless it is ratified by Congress within 120 days, strips the power to rule on land claim decisions from the indigenous affairs agency Funai.
The agriculture ministry will now be responsible for "indemnification, delimitation, demarcation and registration of lands traditionally occupied by indigenous people".
The decision has been celebrated by major agricultural industry bodies as a victory for farmers.