Taking advantage of Brazil’s present political turbulence and President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment, reactionary politicians are quietly rolling back environmental and indigenous protection laws in defiance of the country’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.
Environmentalists say that if the bill known as PEC 65/2012, now at the Senate committee stage, is approved, it means that major infrastructure projects will be able to go ahead regardless of their impacts on biodiversity, indigenous areas, traditional communities and conservation areas.
Instead of a careful if somewhat slow licensing process which involves scientific assessments including biological, botanical, anthropological and archaeological studies, developers will merely have to present a proposed study of environmental impact to be allowed to begin – without actually having to carry out the study.
Once a project is under way it cannot be cancelled or suspended by the environmental protection agencies.
Environment organisations, both governmental and non-governmental, have protested strongly at the bill’s implications. For Marilene Ramos, the president of the official agency for the environment and renewable resources, IBAMA, (in Portuguese only) it means Brazil is going in the opposite direction to developed countries and will no longer be able to control infrastructure projects.