Destruction of Brazil’s Amazon forest jumps 16 pct in 2015 ahead of UN climate conference
SAO PAULO – Reuters
REUTERS photoThe destruction of Brazil’s Amazon forest, the world’s largest intact rainforest, increased by 16 percent in 2015 from a year ago, as the world readies to hold a climate conference in Paris.
Satellite data for the 12 months through the end of July released on Nov. 26 showed that 5,831 square km of forests were cleared in the Brazilian Amazon, an area half the size of Puerto Rico.
The data released by the environment ministry on Nov. 26 confirmed preliminary information released by environmental institutions recently that were showing an increase in deforestation after a fall seen in 2014.
A strong increase in the Mato Grosso state, Brazil’s top grains and livestock producer, was the main factor behind the increase. Landowners in Mato Grosso cleared around 1,500 square kilometers of forests, compared to around 1,000 square kilometers in 2014.
“It was a surprise, particularly the increase in Mato Grosso”, Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira told reporters in Brasilia.
It comes at a sensitive moment for the Brazilian government as countries around the world gather in Paris to discuss a new global climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation makes up to around 15 percent of world’s heat-trapping gases, more than the entire transport sector.
Negotiators are tasked with sealing a deal at the COP 21 UN climate conference in Paris that will cap average global warming at two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.
The U.N. had said on Nov. 25 that government negotiators at the COP 21 climate conference in Paris would meet on Nov. 29, a day earlier than planned, to let them get down to work before world leaders arrive for a summit on Nov. 30.
Meanwhile, UN’s weather agency in Geneva warned of record high temperatures in a report published on Nov. 26.
Based on data for the first 10 months of the year, “we feel very confident... that 2015 will be the warmest year on record,” said World Meteorological Organization (WMO) chief Michel Jarraud, according to Agence France-Presse.
The WMO said land and sea temperatures were likely to surpass previous records shattered last year.
And 2011-2015 marked the hottest five-year period ever measured, at 0.57 C above the 1961-90 average.
“This is all bad news for the planet,” Jarraud told reporters.
The European Union warned on Nov. 25 that there was “still a lot of work” to do and feared a lowest-common-denominator outcome.
The current draft text “is too long and too complex,” EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said.
“Let me be very frank with you today: we will have a deal in Paris. Of that, I have no doubt. But my worry is that we may end up having a minimalistic agreement.”