An urgent situation unfolding in Brazil, which you could help turn around for the better.
Brazil’s parliament has just passed legislation that will strip the Amazon and other important regions of critical environmental protections. The future of Brazil’s forests now lies in the hands of President Dilma Rousseff, who has just days to veto the damaging changes to the country’s long-standing Forest Code.
What is the Forest Code?
Brazil’s Forest Code is one of the most impressive laws on forest protection in the world. And it’s central to Brazil’s recent success in reducing deforestation in places like the Amazon. But for years, it’s been under pressure from agribusiness interests who see the restrictions on deforestation as a barrier to agricultural development.
After heavy lobbying by agribusiness – and going against public opinion, scientific evidence and legal advice - Brazil’s Parliament has finally succeeded in passing controversial changes to the Forest Code. If they go ahead, it could affect up to 76 million hectares of forest - that’s an area the size of Germany, Italy and Austria combined.
Destroying or not restoring this much forest would release the equivalent of 28 billion tonnes of CO2*. That’s around four times the target for global greenhouse gas emissions cuts laid out by the Kyoto Protocol for 2008-12.
Polls show that as many as 80% of Brazilian people oppose the changes to the Forest Code. Thousands have taken to the streets in protest, and millions of people around the globe have supported them by e-mailing President Rousseff or sharing the story on Facebook and Twitter. Together, we managed to delay this vote three times.
Why Brazil must protect the Forest Code
Brazil has built a well-earned reputation for tackling deforestation and protecting the environment. With the country about to host this summer’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development (aka Rio+20), the Brazilian government risks enormous damage to its international status on biodiversity and climate protection.
Brazil has committed itself to reducing deforestation by 80% in the Amazon and by 40% in Cerrado (tropical savannah) and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 39% by 2020. Those commitments will be impossible to meet if the proposed bill becomes law.
The changes to the Forest Code would have severe environmental, social and economic consequences - from huge increases in deforestation, risks of flodding and loss of sensitive ecosystems and habitats to billions of tonnes of additional greenhouse gas emissions, undermining efforts to keep global warming below 2°C.
How you can help to make sure the changes never come into force.
President Dilma could make her decision any day. You can get involved, and do something positive for the planet by signing and sharing this joint petition by WWF, Avaaz and Greenpeace
You can find other ways to get involved with WWF's The Panda Made Me Do It and read about what people are already doing, from swimming 50k to volunteering to teaching school children to become greener, at wwf.org.uk/do-it