“Is receiving donations as they are proposing going to compensate for all that?” asked Natalie Unterstell, a climate policy expert who has been tracking the program. “No. It’s a palliative measure.”

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Bolsonaro Seeks International Funding for Amazon Protection

This story was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Investigations Network.

RIO DE JANEIRO — As the Biden administration rallies the international community to curb global warming in a climate change summit this week, Brazil is pledging to play a critical role, going as far as promising to end illegal deforestation by 2030.

There’s a catch: Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, wants the international community to pledge billions of dollars to pay for the conservation initiatives.

And donors are reluctant to provide the money, since Brazil under the Bolsonaro administration has been busy doing the opposite of conservation, gutting the country’s environmental protection system, undermining Indigenous rights and championing industries driving the destruction of the rainforest.

Mr. Bolsonaro’s watch, deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, by far the largest in the world, has risen to the highest level in over a decade. The destruction, which has been driven by loggers clearing land for cattle grazing and for illegal mining operations, sparked global outrage in 2019 as huge wildfires raged for weeks.

European Union, Norway and others in warning that its worsening reputation hampers the country’s economic potential.

that Norway and Germany froze in 2019 after Mr. Bolsonaro’s government criticized some of the projects and dismantled safeguards to ensure the money was used effectively.

“The shamelessness of the government to ask for resources abroad is striking,” Ms. Araújo said. “Why won’t he use the money that’s there?”

Environmental and Indigenous organizations have expressed deep skepticism about Mr. Bolsonaro’s professed willingness to fight deforestation and they have warned international donors to refrain from giving the Brazilian government money they fear could be used to undermine environmental protection.

In recent weeks, environmentalists have raised the alarm, and celebrities — including the Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso and the American actor Leonardo DiCaprio — signed a letter that conveyed “profound concern” about the talks.

There is no sign that the Biden administration is considering offering to fund deforestation efforts on a significant scale, which would require support from Congress.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said last week that the United States does not expect to announce a bilateral agreement with Brazil at this week’s climate summit.

“We do want to see a clear commitment to ending illegal deforestation, tangible steps to increase effective enforcement of illegal deforestation, and a political signal that illegal deforestation and encroachment will not be tolerated,” she told reporters last week.

an analysis by Climate Observatory.

After the country’s vice president, Hamilton Mourão, announced the government’s first target for deforestation reduction earlier this month, experts pointed out that reaching the goal would leave Brazil by the end of 2022 with a level of deforestation 16 percent higher than the one Mr. Bolsonaro inherited in 2019.

The Bolsonaro administration is backing a bill that would give land grabbers amnesty, a move that would open up a swath of the Amazon at least the size of France to largely unregulated development. Another initiative it is pressing in Congress would make it easier for companies to get environmental licenses and would pave the way for legal mining operations in Indigenous territories.

And there is deep distrust toward Mr. Salles among environmentalists and public servants in the field. A senior federal police official in the Amazon recently accused the minister of obstructing a law enforcement operation against illegal loggers.

Private sector leaders are among the most concerned over the government’s record on the environment. Though China buys almost a third of Brazil’s exports, Americans are crucial investors in companies whose supply chains are vulnerable to deforestation.

In an open letter, the heads of dozens of major Brazilian companies, including the meatpacker JBS and the Itaú bank, urged the government to set more ambitious carbon emission reduction targets.

“Any work that reduces illegal deforestation benefits the private sector,” said Marcello Brito, the president of the Brazilian Agribusiness Association, which was among the signatories. “What I fear is a boycott by the market.”

That’s a prospect Mr. Chapman, the American ambassador, has underscored.

“If things don’t go well, it’s not about what happens with the American government, it’s about what happens with the world,” he said. “Many companies in the United States now, their shareholders are demanding an answer.”

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Tropical Forest Destruction Accelerated in 2020

Tropical forests around the world were destroyed at an increasing rate in 2020 compared with the year before, despite the global economic downturn caused by the pandemic, which reduced demand for some commodities that have spurred deforestation in the past.

Worldwide, loss of primary old-growth tropical forest, which plays a critical role in keeping carbon out of the atmosphere and in maintaining biodiversity, increased by 12 percent in 2020 from 2019, according to the World Resources Institute, a research group based in Washington that reports annually on the subject.

Overall, more than 10 million acres of primary tropical forest was lost in 2020, an area roughly the size of Switzerland. The institute’s analysis said loss of that much forest added more than two and a half billion metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, or about twice as much as is spewed into the air by cars in the United States every year.

pro-development policies of the country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, led to continued widespread clear-cutting. Surging forest losses were also reported in Cameroon in West Africa. And in Colombia, losses soared again last year after a promising drop in 2019.

a severe fire season, with 16 times more forest loss in 2020 than the year before.

anecdotal reports from Brazil and other countries suggested that deforestation was rising because of the pandemic, as the health crisis hampered governments’ efforts to enforce bans on clear-cutting, and as workers who lost their jobs because of the downturn migrated out of cities to rural areas to farm. But Mr. Taylor said the analysis showed “no obvious systemic shift” in forest loss as a result of the pandemic.

If anything, the crisis and the resulting global economic downturn should have led to less overall forest loss, as demand, and prices, for palm oil and other commodities fell. While falling demand may have helped improve the situation in Indonesia and a few other countries, Ms. Seymour said that globally it was “astonishing that in a year that the global economy contracted somewhere between 3 and 4 percent, primary forest loss increased by 12 percent.”

Global Land Analysis and Discovery laboratory at the University of Maryland, who have devised methods for analyzing satellite imagery to determine forest cover. The World Resources Institute refers to their findings as “forest cover loss” rather than “deforestation” because the analysis includes trees lost from plantations and does not distinguish between trees lost to human activities and those lost to natural causes.

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