A Brazilian Extortion Move

The headline of a Wall Street Journal piece regarding the Amazon forest, its putative role in Earth’s climate, and Brazil says it all: Brazil’s Climate Overture to Biden: Pay Us Not to Raze Amazon. The article’s lede lays it out in crystalline terms.

Brazil’s government, widely criticized by environmental groups as a negligent steward of the Amazon rainforest, has made an audacious offer to the Biden administration: provide $1 billion and President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration will reduce deforestation by 40%.

The article closed with a question for readers:

Should the US give the Bolsonaro government in Brazil $1 billion to slow deforestation in the Amazon?

No, I say. No, in spades.

Here’s my counteroffer to Bolsonaro: slow deforestation of the Amazon by 50%, and we won’t cut our imports of Brazilian goods and services by $1 billion. End your deforestation by 2030—your proposed goal—and we’ll continue, after that date, to import Brazilian goods and services at rates consistent with market demand.

Here are the Brazilian terms starkly articulated by Bolsonaro’s Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles:

If we don’t give these people this economic support, they will continue to be co-opted or incentivized by illegal activities.

Cute. Those are “activities” the Brazilian government condones with its own passivity. Hence the Bolsonaro/Salles threat: “Nice forest you guys got here. Be too bad if something was to happen to it. Be better if you was to pay up.”

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