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Brazil spent less that half of its 2021 environmental enforcement budget
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Brazil spent less that half of its 2021 environmental enforcement budget

Illegal coal furnaces can be seen before a raid operation that aimed to protect Niquelandia’s cerrado (savannah), 200 km (124 miles), from Brasilia, September 11, 2009. REUTERS/Roberto Jayme/

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SAO PAULO – Brazil’s environmental agency spent less then half of its budget for enforcement last fiscal year despite the soaring levels Amazon rainforest destruction, according to an analysis of federal spending that was released Tuesday.

According to government satellite data, deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest rose to a 15 year high in 2021, clearing an area greater than the U.S. state Connecticut.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has criticized what he considers overzealous enforcements of environmental laws. However, he changed his tone last year after international pressure from the United States.

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Bolsonaro, at an Earth Day summit hosted by Joe Biden, pledged to double the budget to support environmental enforcement and other efforts to protect the Amazon.

Public records show that the money was later transferred to Ibama, the federal environmental agency. Its enforcement budget grew from 219 million reais ($41 millions) to 219 million reais.

Climate Observatory, an advocacy group, stated that Ibama spent just 41% of the money last year in a review of the final 2021 budget figures. Reuters confirmed these calculations.

Bolsonaro’s office didn’t respond to requests for comment.

According to a Reuters review, most of the unused money was committed to Ibama’s 2022 spending, such as acquiring equipment. This is in addition to directly funding field operations which the enforcement budget also covers.

The agency spent approximately three quarters of its total 1.8 billion reais budget last fiscal year on payroll, pensions, and other mandatory spending.

In a statement, Ibama stated to Reuters that the best way to measure public spending was to use the amount that has been committed, even if it has not yet been spent.

Climate Observatory stated that the money could have been used to combat accelerating deforestation in the last year.

Suely Araujo is a former head Ibama, and a policy specialist at Climate Observatory. She said that although the agency always rolls some money forward to the next year it was unusual to push this much spending forward.

Ibama spent between 86%-92% of its enforcement budget annually in the three years preceding Bolsonaro’s 2019 election.

“For it be effective, you need to look at what has been spent and paid, not just the amount committed. Araujo said that once something is committed, there is no way of knowing if it will actually come to pass.

($1 = 5.3050 reais)

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Jake Spring Reporting
Editing by Brad Haynes, Bernadettebaum

Our Standards The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles

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