A new analysis has found that since taking office in January 2019, Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro has approved 57 pieces of legislation that weaken environmental laws, ranging from relaxing forest protections to declassifying the toxicity of dozens of pesticides. Almost half, 27 bills, were passed during the height of Brazil’s COVID-19 pandemic, from March to September 2020. 

What is Happening?

Further, a report published in January maps out how the Bolsonaro government has slashed the budget for environmental monitoring and firefighting- reduced by 9.8% in 2020, then by another 27.4% in 2021. These cuts make it impossible for the nation’s environmental agencies to carry out their work effectively, according to the report.

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The study authors wrote, “The current administration is taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to intensify a pattern of weakening environmental protection in Brazil. This has the potential to intensify ongoing loss of biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, and the likelihood of other zoonotic disease outbreaks, and inflict substantial harm to traditional and indigenous peoples. The effects of such changes will likely last for decades.”

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