Energy and environment – Elections in Brazil bring new hope for the Amazon

A transfer of power in South America’s largest country could renew the Amazon’s chances. Meanwhile, the White House announces funding for low-income heating, and the UK Prime Minister does a 180 on COP27.

It’s the night of energy and the environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. For The Hill, we are Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Did someone forward this newsletter to you?

Brazil’s Elections Could Mean a Reprieve for Amazon

Brazil’s ouster of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro this week gives environmentalists hope for the future of the Amazon rainforest.

The Amazon – seen as of major importance for tackling climate change – has faced increased logging and land clearing under Bolsonaro, whose administration has openly deprioritized environmental laws.

The situation: On Sunday, Brazilians elected Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, known colloquially as “Lula”, to replace Bolsonaro. Da Silva, who also served as the country’s president from 2003 to 2010, has pledged to protect the precious rainforest.

  • “Let’s fight for zero deforestation” he said after winning the elections.
  • “Brazil will fight for a living Amazon; a standing tree is worth more than thousands of logs – that’s why we will resume monitoring the entire Amazon and any illegal activity, and at the same time we will promote sustainable development,” he said. added.

This is where it gets complicated : But there could still be challenges ahead, especially with the country’s more conservative National Congress.

  • Preserving the Amazon is vital in the fight against climate change because of the amount of planet-warming carbon dioxide the huge forest can absorb: an estimated 123 billion tons of carbon above and below ground, according to United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • Storing forest carbon is “absolutely necessary to tackle the climate emergency”, said Brazilian climatologist Carlos Nobre.
  • The Amazon is also home to hundreds of indigenous groups and a vast wealth of animal and plant species.

During da Silva’s previous two terms, his administration tackled land clearing in the Amazon with a multi-layered strategy that expanded the scope and number of protected areas, tackled illegal logging and funded new means of remote satellite monitoring to identify areas where forest was disappearing.

Da Silva and his successor Dilma Rousseff also targeted the root causes of deforestation, such as the easy credit available to agricultural interests clearing new land. They encouraged new sustainable supply chains and investments to make Amazon agriculture more productive so that economic growth could take place through more intensive cultivation of existing plots, rather than clearing new ones.

But Rousseff was deposed in 2017 in what she called a “parliamentary coup” orchestrated by rising members of Brazil’s “ruralist” faction of large agricultural landowners and mining interests.

After a right-wing anti-corruption campaign saw the ever-popular da Silva jailed, Bolsonaro took power in 2018 on a platform that included stepping up development in the Amazon.

Under Bolsonaro, deforestation began to increase sharply. The first half of 2022 saw record deforestation rate, according to Mongabay. Last month INPE, Brazil’s space agency, found that deforestation increased by nearly 50% from a year ago.

Learn more about Rachel and Saul Elbein of The Hill.

Officials provide $13 billion to help reduce energy bills

The Biden administration on Wednesday announced $13 billion in funds to provide winter heating assistance to low-income Americans, including $4.5 billion through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. (LIHEAP).

In addition to LIHEAP funding, provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, the White House announced $9 billion in Cutting Inflation Act funds for household energy efficiency improvements in low income.

What’s included? That includes enough funds to install 500,000 heat pumps and retrofit 500,000 homes, according to a White House call with reporters Tuesday night. The White House said that would include separate rebate programs for upgrades and whole-home appliances. White House officials said the initiatives are part of a larger goal to deploy at least 12 million heat pumps by the end of the decade.

Vice President Harris formally announced the funds Wednesday in Boston, part of a wider trip across the United States to tout the benefits of the Cut Inflation Act.

  • “As energy prices remain high, this administration is working to reduce costs for working families and businesses through historic investments in consumer rebates for more efficient home improvements and energy-efficient appliances. energy nationwide,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.
  • “President Biden’s agenda means that states will have more resources to meet the needs of their consumers and achieve home electrification faster on the path to a net-zero emissions economy,” she continued.

Learn more about the announcement here.

Prime Minister changes his mind and will attend UN climate summit

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed on Wednesday that he would attend the UN climate conference COP27 next week, less than a week after his office said national priorities would force him to skip it. .

“There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change. There is no energy security without investment in renewable energies. This is why I will be attending @COP27P next week: to deliver on Glasgow’s legacy of building a secure and sustainable future,” Sunak tweeted on Wednesday.

Days after Sunak took office last week, a spokesman for his office said the prime minister would not attend the summit, which is scheduled to begin in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Sunday. Sunak’s office had cited “pressing domestic commitments”, including an upcoming budget deadline, for the prime minister’s absence.

After the pushback, however, Sunak’s office told the BBC earlier this week that his potential participation was still under review. Appearing on UK television earlier this week, Food Minister Mark Spencer said “the UK is very keen to play its part”, adding “if [Sunak’s] his schedule allows it, he would like to go” to COP27. But he did not commit to whether the Prime Minister would make a complete “U-turn”.

The UK currently holds the COP presidency after hosting the 2021 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, attended by then Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Johnson and President Biden are expected to attend the 2022 conference. Critics of Sunak’s announcement that he would not attend include COP26 President Alok Sharma, who on Sunday said he was “disappointed” by the decision, adding that “going to COP27 would allow us to engage with other world leaders. I think that sends a signal – should the Prime Minister leave – about our renewed engagement on this issue.

Read more about Sunak’s overthrow here.

WHAT WE READ

  • Democrats are pushing the EPA to ease chemical regulations (E&E News)
  • As climate change worsens, US assesses communities to save (The New York Times)
  • After Ian, Florida’s waterways could remain polluted for months (The Washington Post)
  • As more drivers go electric, Georgia could replace the gas tax with mileage-based user fees (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • “Everyone is infected”: Maine hunters worry about PFAS contamination in animals (WGME)

🐸 Lighter click: Hi all Hypnotoad!

That’s all for today, thanks for reading. Discover The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. Well see you tomorrow.

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