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The COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to weaken environmental protection in Brazil

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  • M.M. Vale
  • E. Berenguer
  • M. Argollo de Menezes
  • E.B. Viveiros de Castro
  • L. Pugliese de Siqueira
  • R.D.C.Q. Portela
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Article number108994
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/03/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Biological Conservation
Volume255
Number of pages5
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date5/02/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

This paper examines the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on environmental protection and legislation in Brazil. We evaluate major legislative actions, environmental fines and deforestation since January 2019. We show that 57 legislative acts aimed at weakening environmental protection in Brazil during the current administration, almost half of which in the seven-month period of the pandemic in Brazil, with September 2020 as the month with the most legislative acts (n = 16). These acts either deregulated or weakened current environmental legislation, with a number of them aimed at dismantling the main federal institutions in charge of environmental protection. We also found a 72% reduction in environmental fines during the pandemic, despite an increase in Amazonian deforestation during this period. We conclude that 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. We highlight the key role of the scientific community, media and civil society, national and international levels, in order to reverse these harmful actions.