• Agro
  • Civil Society
  • Disinformation
  • Exploitation & Control
  • Forests & Land Use
  • Geopolitics
  • Indigenous & Traditional Communities
  • Oil
  • Research
  • Violence
  • Water & Sanitation
  • Stakeholders
State governors create coalition to promote partnership with Biden for environmental protection funds

Letter sent to the American President reinforces governors role in the Paris Agreement

Credit: Gage Skidmore/ via CC BY-SA 2.0

19 Mar 21

State governors create coalition to promote partnership with Biden for environmental protection funds

A coalition of 21 Brazilian state governors are drafting a letter to USA President Joe Biden. Their aim is to promote an environmental protection agreement between the countries. In the electoral race, Biden promised to mobilize large investments to preserve the Amazon, of which the group intends to become a beneficiary.

According to the newspaper Valor Econômico, who had access to the draft letter, the initiative “seeks to promote the governors as players that are committed to forest protection, reforestation, and the development of a green economy. Faced with the states’ responsibility to comply with the Paris Agreement, the group wants to create the “largest decarbonization economy on the planet” in partnership with the US. For this, the plans contemplate not only the Amazon, but also other biomes with large carbon stocks, such as the Atlantic Rainforest, the Caatinga and the Pantanal – which had 12% of its area devastated in 2020.

Besides the reduction of greenhouse gases and investment in renewable energy sources, among the points highlighted in the draft letter, are “the fight against deforestation, compliance with the Forest Code for the conservation of forests, improving efficiency in agriculture and cattle ranching, protection of indigenous peoples and the search for ways to enable ‘massive reforestation”, says the article.

Bill targets illegal gold laundering in financial markets

Proposition wants to perfect ore origin tracing

Credit: Marcos Amend/Greenpeace

11 Mar 21

Bill targets illegal gold laundering in financial markets

In partnership with the Instituto Escolhas [Choices Institute], Senator Fabiano Contarato (Rede) forwarded to Congress a bill that discusses new mechanisms for monitoring and controlling commercial transactions that currently allow “gold laundering”, an operation that transforms illegally mined ore into apparently legal resources.

The proposal creates a public control system over the gold trade to reinforce the tracking of its origin and curb mining in forbidden areas, such as indigenous lands and Conservation Units. In a statement, Contarato lists the main points of the bill and reaffirms the importance of focusing on market surveillance. “The financial sector can help clean up the gold extraction sector in Brazil and prevent illegal metal from entering the market. Demanding certificates of legal origin and environmental compliance is a constitutional imperative and should be an ethical and moral commitment of the national financial sector,” he says.

Faced with the increased search for safer financial assets, such as gold, amid the financial crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Instituto Escolhas launched, in October last year, the campaign “Where does gold come from?” At the time, the NGO stressed that the ore boom in the international market has stimulated the advance of illegal mining in the Brazilian Amazon, a phenomenon widely denounced by NGOs and indigenous organizations over the past year.

Among them is the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil Network (Apib), which published in 2020 the survey “Complicity in the destruction – III”, about companies associated with the systematic devastation of indigenous territories. Last month, Apib received the resignation of the British mining company Anglo American, one of the companies cited in the document, to cease its activities on indigenous lands in the Amazon. The response was motivated by a petition created by the organization to pressure the company to withdraw applications for copper exploration in Munduruku territory.

France's largest bank will stop financing companies linked to deforestation in the Amazon

Photo of the Indigenous Land Cachoeira Seca, in Pará state, deforested by land grabbers and loggers

Credit: Daniel Beltrá/Greenpeace

15 Feb 21

France’s largest bank will stop financing companies linked to deforestation in the Amazon

BNP Paribas, the largest French bank, has announced that it will no longer finance companies that buy cattle or soy produced in the Amazon on land that was deforested after 2008. The promise also applies to grain or beef from the Brazilian Cerrado biome. The institution informed that it will only finance companies that commit to zero deforestation by 2025, according to the Reuters news agency.

The BNP’s stance is in line with the French government’s tightening siege on Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policy, as exemplified by president Emmanuel Macron’s recent threat to discontinue the importation of Brazilian soybeans.

Petrobras takes over five oil blocks in the Amazon River bought by Total in 2013

Environmentalists fear that this will increase the pressure for licensing

Credit: @ANDREBANIWA/Twitter

10 Feb 21

Petrobras takes over five oil blocks in the Amazon River bought by Total in 2013

Previously bought by French company Total, Petrobras is now taking over five oil blocks located in the Amazon River gorge, with authorization from the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP), as stated in the Union Official Gazette.

The company decided to take over due to the difficulty with the environmental licensing process of the blocks, located “in one of the most sensitive areas of the region and with extreme environmental wealth,” says an article in the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo. Total bought the blocks in an auction held in 2013 and never received the license for exploration. In 2018, for the fourth time, environmental agency Ibama denied the company’s request to drill in the basin. With Petrobras taking over, environmentalists fear that there will be greater pressure for the release of the blocks. 

Auction of 327 oil blocks threatens indigenous lands and conservation units, warns NGO

Study shows that the Amazon region would be most affected

Credit: zhengzaishuru/via iStock

4 Dec 20

Auction of 327 oil blocks threatens indigenous lands and conservation units, warns NGO

Of the 327 oil blocs auctioned by the National Oil and Gas Agency (ANP) in the 2nd Permanent Offering Cycle, only 17 were sold – the equivalent of 5%. Although the volume can be considered low, R$ 56.6 million were raised, more than double the previous cycle, in 2019, according to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo. Most of the blocks for sale were in land, reassuring the objective of interiorization of the oil industry in places previously explored only by Petrobras, the national state owned company.

The blocks offered in the Amazon region worry environmentalists. A preliminary study to the auction, promoted by the NGO, points out that the exploration areas, if sold, can cause significant social and environmental damage in 47 Indigenous Lands (IT) and 22 Conservation Units (UC) located near the extraction sites. The hydraulic fracturing method, known as fracking, in which a perforated vertical well receives an injection of water together with chemical solvents and sand, under great pressure, is pointed out as especially harmful. Among the risks is “contamination of surface and underground water resources” due to the toxic substance injected, local hybrid insecurity, since the technique demands “excessive use of water” and threatens “the food security of small farmers, indigenous peoples and traditional peoples,” the report says.

The document identifies dozens of social and environmental impacts from oil and gas exploration, including the territorial threat to indigenous and traditional communities and the increase in burning and deforestation in occupied areas.

New NGO report links beef industry giants to illegal Amazon deforestation

A farm in São Félix do Xingu, Pará State, that participated in the “Day of The Fire” and supplies JBS and Marfrig

Credit: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

3 Dec 20

New NGO report links beef industry giants to illegal Amazon deforestation

A Global Witness survey shows that three Brazilian beef giants – JBS, Marfrig and Minerva – have their production chains marked by illegal deforestation in the Amazon. The study shows that between 2017 and 2019, in Pará State, the companies bought cattle from 379 farms that illegally deforested an area of 202 square kilometers, equivalent to 20,000 soccer fields. The trail of destruction is even greater when considering the over 4,000 suppliers of these farms, the “indirect suppliers” linked to the productive chains of the companies, responsible for an estimated total of 140,000 deforested soccer fields.

The report also questions the veracity of the audits carried out by international companies DNV-GL and Grant Thornton, which claimed “several times” that JBS, Marfrig and Minerva were fulfilling their social and environmental commitments. Also, major international banks such as Santander, Deutsche Bank and HSBC are cited in the document as accomplices to the deforestation, since they continue financing the companies.

The farmers are direct accomplices of the destruction of the Amazon, the slaughterhouses are failing to remove the deforestation from their productive chains of the cattle that they buy from these cattle ranchers, the auditors have restrictions to perform their audits, which means that the audits are not detecting the cases that we identified, The banks, on the other hand, are not asking enough questions of the meat factories and, at the same time, are not forced by their governments to make a strict control to remove deforestation from their investments,” summarized Chris Moye, senior Amazon researcher at Global Witness, in an interview for BBC Brazil

EU Parliament members criticize proposal to control NGOs in the Amazon in letter to Brazil's VP

VP denies knowing about decree to curb civil society action

Credit: Isac Nóbrega/PR/via CC BY 2.0

27 Nov 20

EU Parliament members criticize proposal to control NGOs in the Amazon in letter to Brazil’s VP

“While the Amazon is burning at record speed, limiting the operations of environmental and social groups and organizations can have devastating consequences,” says the letter sent by European Parliament members to Vice President Hamilton Mourão and to the Amazon Council, spearheaded by the VP, as reported by the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. The criticism was motivated by the information, publicized by the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo weeks before, that the Amazonian Council plans, through a new regulatory framework, to have total control over the actions of non-governmental organizations in the Amazon until 2022.

Among the signatories is Anna Cavazzini, vice-president of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Brazil. The criticism voices the European Union’s concern about the devastation of the forest, which could halt the trade agreement with Mercosur, signed in 2019.

The document defends cooperation between government and organized civil society and reiterates the positive aspects of NGOs’ actions for Brazilian environmental policy: “NGOs are not there to replace the government, but to complement its actions – and, crucially, to help make public policies more transparent and effective through free criticism”.

However, “free criticism” of Brazilian environmental policy has been a target of attacks by the federal government. In another attempt to curtail it, the Minister of the Environment Ricardo Salles has filed four judicial interpellations, through the Federal Attorney General’s Office (AGU), against his critics – the targets are Márcio Astrini, coordinator of the Climate Observatory, journalists André Borges (O Estado de S. Paulo) and Cedê Silva (O Antagonista), as well as the scientist Antonio Donato Nobre, researcher of the Earth System Science Center of the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe). 

Amazon Illegal logging: Bolsonaro threatens international buyers whilst ignoring Brazil’s responsibility

Government officials met convicted criminal loggers

Credit: Fernando Augusto/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

26 Nov 20

Amazon Illegal logging: Bolsonaro threatens international buyers whilst ignoring Brazil’s responsibility

On November 17, during his official speech at the BRICS summit, President Bolsonaro said he would reveal which countries are buying illegal lumber from the Amazon. The move was seen as a response to international pressure that Brazil has suffered as a result of record deforestation rates in 2020. “We will reveal in the coming days the names of the countries that import this illegal wood from us through the immensity that is the Amazon region” declared the president at the meeting of the group, formed by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The speech echoed in the press over the following weeks and civil society organizations stressed the responsibility of the Brazilian government in the  international illegal timber trade – “If Bolsonaro knows who buys illegal timber, he must know who sells it. What we also want to know is when he will reverse his own actions, which benefit the exportation of illegal wood,” Greenpeace Brazil published in a posting on social networks. In an interview with Deutche Welle, Dinaman Tuxá, lawyer and executive coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil Network (Apib), stated that the president’s speech has as background an environmental policy complicit with the problem. “In fact, he threatens to release a list of countries that buy illegal timber from Brazil because he is being pressured by great powers to change their environmental policy. So he is trying, in some way, to embarrass these consumer countries. But it’s totally contradictory, because at the same time he’s trying to expose a situation, he also makes it more flexible and encourages, in a certain way, the increase in illegal logging. The government is in favor of cutting the wood, he is in favor of increasing this market and now he is trying to create a political incident because he is being pressured in the international field,” said Tuxá.

In the following week, a report in the newspaper O Globo revealed that on February 6, the president of the environmental control agency Ibama, Eduardo Fortunato Bim, met with an entourage of businessmen from the lumber sector in Pará State at the headquarters of the Ministry of Environment. Nineteen days after the meeting, Bim signed a dispatch releasing the export of native wood without authorization from the agency, which facilitates the commercialization of illegally extracted wood. According to the newspaper, two of the lumber companies that attended the meeting received more than R$ 2.6 million in environmental fines.

US elections likely to impact Brazilian environmental agenda

Elections may change the relations between countries, given Bolsonaro’s Trump-centric approach to policies

Credit: Alan Santos/PR/via CC BY 2.0

7 Nov 20

US elections likely to impact Brazilian environmental agenda

The victory of the Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the U.S. presidential elections, announced on November 6, might bring important changes in the relationship between the U.S. and Brazil. With Trump, the Brazilian government found ideological alignment between the anti-human rights and anti-human environment agendas. But now, it will have the challenge to establish an open dialogue with a new president who has already publicly declared, throughout the electoral race, dissatisfaction with the Brazilian socio-environmental policy. Biden has even mentioned an eventual U.S. mobilization if Brazil does not take effective measures for the protection of the Amazon. To deepen the understanding on how Biden’s arrival to the presidency may impact Brazil, we recommend some readings:

– Brazilian analysts are already speculating about the possible fall of ministers Ricardo Salles (Environment) and Ernesto Araújo (Foreign Relations), who hold key positions for the construction of a common agenda between the newly elected government in the U.S. and that of Jair Bolsonaro, as highlighted by a report from El País, which heard dozens of experts.

The website O Eco, focused on covering environmental issues, spoke with two experts in climate and environmental policy. The article highlights specific points of Joe Biden’s government program relevant to Brazil, such as the resumption of the Paris Agreement, and the advancement of the environmental agenda among Democrats in recent years. They also mention a possible commercial and investor stoppage due to the inaction of the Brazilian government in the face of environmental destruction.

– The Globo Rural heard a team of experts who also analyzed the economic consequences that Brazil may suffer if it does not prioritize the development of a sustainable economy. The article highlights a possible isolation of the country in the international market by ignoring the need to change its environmental policy in the face of commercial pressure from major players like Europe and China.  

VP takes ambassadors on blindsiding tour to the Amazon

NGO offered an alternative tour to diplomats, including areas more severely affected by deforestation

Credit: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

6 Nov 20

VP takes ambassadors on blindsiding tour to the Amazon

At the head of two key institutions for environmental protection, the Amazon Council and the Amazon Fund, Vice President Hamilton Mourão organized a tour of the Amazon with ambassadors, which began on October 4. Representatives from the European Union, Germany, France, Sweden, United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Peru, Colombia and South Africa participated in the visits.

As reported by El País, the trip was criticized by environmentalists for proposing a “shielded” route, concentrated on the outskirts of Manaus, capital of Amazonas State, and the city of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, ignoring the regions most affected by deforestation. As a counterpoint, the NGO Greenpeace sent the ambassadors an alternative route, including the states of Pará and Mato Grosso do Sul. “A diplomatic trip through the Brazilian Amazon that does not include in its route the challenges and serious environmental damage that the region faces, is an incomplete trip and a missed opportunity,” said the NGO.

To the DW, Heiko Thoms, German Ambassador, one of the main donor countries of the now paralyzed Amazon Fund, stated that the trip does not change the country’s impression about the Brazilian environmental crisis. In parallel to Mourão’s invitation, Thoms met with the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) and the Sustainable Amazon Foundation.

The United Kingdom diplomat Liz Davidson shared her impressions in a series of Twitter posts. She reinforced the importance of the visit “at a crucial moment of the sustainable development agenda in Brazil and in the world”. Davidson, however, regretted “not going to the areas most affected by deforestation and not having had the opportunity to talk with organizations and social leaderships working in the region, which would have helped to conduct our dialogue in a more balanced and transparent manner”.

The visit took place amid strong international pressure against Brazil’s high deforestation rates. In early October, the European Parliament called for changes in Mercosur’s environmental policy so that the economic agreement between the blocs could be signed; in June, a group of investors sent an open letter to the Brazilian embassies in several countries expressing concern about growing deforestation rates.

EU asks for changes in Mercosur environmental policies to ratify trade agreement

Brasil was mentioned as an example of bad policies

Credit: Jorisvo/iStock

7 Oct 20

EU asks for changes in Mercosur environmental policies to ratify trade agreement

The European Parliament approved an amendment in a report about the application of the continent’s trade agreement reinforcing the need for changes in the environmental policies of the Mercosur countries – in particular, Brazil – in order for the treaty with the European Union to materialize.

The first version of the report, proposed by French deputies, named Bolsonaro’s policies. Although his name was deleted in the final report,  the text reflects the growing tension  between France and Brazil around the environmental agenda. The group of parliamentarians expressed “ deep concern about the environmental policy of Jair Bolsonaro, which is incompatible with the commitments made under the Paris Agreement, namely to fight global warming and protect biodiversity”, according to newspaper Valor Econômico. In its analysis, the newspaper said that although the amendment has no veto power, in practical terms, “the need for additional guarantees by the Bolsonaro government in the environmental area will be essential for Europeans to move to ratify or not the bi-regional agreement.“ In September, Vice President Hamilton Mourão received a letter signed by ambassadors from eight European countries – Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Belgium – that criticizes the government’s environmental policy and signals the departure of investors and companies from Brazil in response to the environmental crisis.

Farms involved in criminal “Day of the Fire” sell meat to JBS and Marfrig, says Greenpeace

São José Farm in São Félix do Xingu (PA), one of the properties responsible for the “Day of the Fire” supply cattle to both agro-giants

Crédito: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

5 Oct 20

Farms involved in criminal “Day of the Fire” sell meat to JBS and Marfrig, says Greenpeace

A Greenpeace report released on the one-year anniversary of the event known as “Day of Fire”, when a coordinated action by farmers caused a 1,923% increase in forest fires in Amazon’s Pará State, showed that forest fires-causing properties are part of the supply chain of Marfrig and JBS, Brazilian multinationals and the two largest meat producers in the world. Greenpeace also found connections between properties that provide cattle to the companies with slave labor. The document points out the São José farm, in the municipality of São Félix do Xingu, Bacuri and Santa Rosa farms, both in Altamira. The latter two supplied indirectly to slaughterhouses — meaning that they sell to properties that pass produce on to the sector’s giants. JBS informed that São José is no longer part of its distribution chain. The report also points out that only 5.7% of the 478 properties with active fire on Fire Day received fines. 

Meanwhile, international pressure grows. Parknshop, Hong Kong’s largest supermarket chain, said it would no longer buy meat from JBS. In the United Kingdom, a public consultation may pass a new legislation that increases the severity of regulation to products that come from areas of deforestation. 23 food giants – like McDonald’s, Mondeléz and Nestlé – wrote a letter to the government calling for greater control over the entry of produce from deforested areas. The British company M&S also announced, in late September, that it will no longer use soy in any of its products to combat deforestation in Brazil.

Supreme Court holds unprecedented hearing about environmental crisis

Authorities, experts, civil society and government officials were invited

Crédito: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

21 Sep 20

Supreme Court holds unprecedented hearing about environmental crisis

On September 21 and 22, the Supreme Federal Court (STF) held a virtual public hearing to discuss the Brazilian environmental crisis and the global context of climate emergency. Justice Luís Roberto Barroso summoned the hearing as the rapporteur of a suit brought by four parties (Rede, PSOL, PSB and PT), that accuses the Ministry of the Environment of paralysing, since 2019, the National Fund on Climate Change, one of the main financing instruments in the fight against global warming.

Barroso invited dozens of authorities and experts from academia, civil society, the private sector and government to create an overview of the country’s environmental situation. For the minister, the fund situation illustrates a set of actions and omissions that may represent a general state of unconstitutionality. The hearing began on the eve of President Bolsonaro’s speech at the opening of the UN General Assembly.

Among the authorities present, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia, said that the fires in the Amazon hinder Brazilian agribusiness abroad. The Minister of Science and Technology, Marcos Pontes, recognized the relationship between forest fires and global warming. The Minister of the Institutional Security Office (GSI), General Augusto Heleno, defended the federal government’s role in the environmental agenda, saying that there was no omission and that critics want to attack President Bolsonaro. Repeating arguments from other sectors of the government, Heleno criticized the work of NGOs, accusing them of serving foreign and ideological interests and repeated that the causes of forest fires are natural.

The question of mining in the Amazon was also on the agenda; Heleno defended the regularization of mining activities inside indigenous lands.

Under pressure by investors, Ministry of the Environment announces new structure

Servants see “systematic dismantling” of the the Ministry under Salles

Credits: José Cruz/Agência Brasil

12 Aug 20

Under pressure by investors, Ministry of the Environment announces new structure

The Ministry of the Environment (MMA) has announced its new structure, effectively starting September 21st. Minister Ricardo Salles announced that the reorganization of the ministry “will answer import demands” that are “now priorities”. The changes, however, were credited to the pressure by international investors and environmental organizations.

Salles announced the recreation of a secretary to handle climate change. The government abolished the previous secretary in 2019. He also announced the Secretary for Amazon and Environmental Services that will work to attract resources via the carbon credit market. The new Secretary of Preserved Areas will try to gather sponsors, corporate and individual, to parks and federal Conservation Units (UC)

In a joint statement, the National Association of Environmental Public Servants (Ascema Nacional) and the Association of the Ministry of the Environment Workers (ASSEMMA) questioned the effectiveness of the measures and denounced the systematic destruction of the ministry under Salles. “[president Bolsonaro] announced the extinction of MMA in October 2018. They didn’t formally dismantle the ministry, but it’s happening, step by step, with all the measures Salles is implementing. The public servants are watching, bamboozled, to the deconstruction”, stated the note.

International investors write open letter to Brazilian embassies with concerns about environmental policies

Document mentions Salles speech about deregulating environmental norms

Crédito: Eduardo Frederiksen/iStock

23 Jun 20

International investors write open letter to Brazilian embassies with concerns about environmental policies

An international business and investment group, controlling R$ 20 trillion of funds, wrote an open letter to Brazilian embassies in the United States, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, United Kingdom, France and Netherlands. The document expresses concern over deforestation rates in Brazil and the behaviour of the minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles. The letter quotes minister Salles leaked remarks at a cabinet meeting in April, when he said that the government should take advantage of the public attention to the pandemic to deregulate environmental laws.

According to the website G1, the investors group wants to contribute with the conciliation between the economic development and environment conservation. They ask the Brazilian government to “show firm commitment with eliminating deforestation and protecting indigenous people’s rights”.

Davos: investors react to environmental policies and worry Minister of Economy

Paulo Guedes during session in the 2020 World Economic Forum

Crédito: World Economic Forum/Ciaran McCrickard/via Fotos Públicas

17 Feb 20

Davos: investors react to environmental policies and worry Minister of Economy

Upon coming back from the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, Paulo Guedes, the minister of Economy, voiced concerns about  the Minister of Environment, Ricardo Salles, according to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. The news article says that one of the main alleged reasons from investors that are holding back their capitals from Brazil are concerns and doubts regarding the Brazilian government’s environmental policies.

Government excludes civil society from National Environment Fund

“Golpe duro contra o meio ambiente”, afirmou diretora da SBPC

Crédito: Gilberto Soares/MMA/Divulgação/Via G1

6 Feb 20

Government excludes civil society from National Environment Fund

A presidential decree excluded civil society organizations from the deliberative council of the National Environment Fund (FNMA). The Fund is linked to the Ministry of the Environment and finances sustainable development projects across the country. 


Representatives of the Brazilian Association of Environmental Organization (Abema), National Association of Municipalities and Environment, Brazilian Forum of NGOs and Social Movements for the Environment and Development (FBOMS) and the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science (SBPC) will no longer be heard at the council.

A director for SBPC said that the measure is “a hard blow against the environment”.

17 entries on this timeline

Hello :)

Smoke Signal is an interactive timeline about the Brazilian socio-environmental crisis.

Every Monday, we update the site with the latest news.

Thank you for your visit.
Please, come again and keep up with our weekly monitoring.


Select dates, keywords and stakeholders to filter your timeline

Sign up for our newsletter

Sign up with your email for more exclusive content.

Link copiado com sucesso!