Norway Pays Brazil $1bn For Slowing Amazon Deforestation

ericpheterson1Norway will soon pay Brazil the final installment of a $1bn payment for slowing the rate at which the Amazon rainforest is cut down, giving a massive incentive to the country’s government to protect the ‘lungs of the world’.

As part of an agreement called The Amazon Fund, the Scandinavian country promised to pay Brazil $1bn between 2008 and 2015, in exchange for its commitment to slow down deforestation. The Amazon Fund is administered by the Brazilian Development Bank BNDES, which uses the money to pay for sustainable and innovative ways to develop the Amazon region.

The UN Secretary General said that the Amazon fund was “an outstanding example of the kind of international collaboration we need to ensure the future sustainability of the planet”.

Brazil vowed to cut the rate of deforestation by 75 percent over the past seven years, and has achieved its goal. Between 1996 and 2005, Brazil cut down 20,500 km squared, an area the size of Clark County in Nevada, or the entire state of Israel. By the year from August 2013 to July 2014, that had fallen to 4,800km squared. In 2012 the rate of deforestation fell to its lowest in 24 years.

But activists say the rate of deforestation is not slowing down enough, and that Brazil- whose policy of evicting native people from their ancestral land has proven very controversial– should be doing much more to prevent the loss of diverse habitats. In July 2014, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff made it easier for logging companies to clear the rainforest, resulting in a deforestation spike: 402km squared was cleared in September last year alone.

Norway has put an impressive $670 million into the Amazon Fund so far and is one of the most charitable nations on the planet, with over 1% of its GDP spent on international aid. The country also has a deal with Indonesia, offering it the same $180m installments in exchange for a vow from the country to protect its tropical rainforests. However, it warned the Indonesian government earlier this year that its progress in reforming its forestry sector will not be sufficient to meet its pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 26% in 2020.

Norwegian environment minister Baard Vegar Solhjell announced on Monday that the government would make the $100m payment to Brazil before the global climate summit in December, praising the country’s conservation work: “These efforts have tremendous positive effects for biodiversity, the livelihoods of local communities and indigenous peoples, and local and global rainfall patterns,” he said. “The importance of what Brazil has achieved on deforestation over the last few years can hardly be overestimated.”

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