Brazil research chief says sacked over Bolsonaro deforestation spat

File photo taken on September 22, 2017 showing an aerial view of deforestation in the Western Amazon region of Brazil. (AFP)
Updated 03 August 2019

Brazil research chief says sacked over Bolsonaro deforestation spat

  • The latest data released by INPE shows that deforestation has increased 40 percent in the last two months compared to the same period a year ago

BRASILIA: The head of Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research said on Friday he would be sacked following a row with President Jair Bolsonaro over deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
Ricardo Galvao had accused far-right Bolsonaro of “cowardice” for publicly questioning satellite data produced by the institute, known by its initials INPE, that showed Amazon rainforest deforestation had increased 88 percent on-year in June.
“My words about the president have caused annoyance, so I’m going to be fired,” said Galvao.
Two weeks ago, Bolsonaro had told reporters: “With all the devastation that you are accusing us of doing... the Amazon region would already have been extinguished.”
Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic, also called on Galvao “to come to Brasilia to explain the data that was released to the press.”
The president has previously floated the idea of opening up protected rainforest areas to agriculture, a highly controversial move given the existing level of deforestation.
In his row with Galvao, Bolsonaro suggested the INPE president is “in the service of some NGOs.”
A day later, Galvao hit back, blasting Bolsonaro for making “undue accusations against people of the highest level of Brazilian science” and comparing the president’s suspicions to “a joke by a 14-year-old boy.”
Bolsonaro upped the ante on Thursday, claiming the INPE figures “don’t correspond to the truth” and were damaging to the institute and the country.

Galvao previously insisted he wouldn’t resign, but speaking on Friday he admitted he had discussed the possibility he might be fired with Minister for Science and Technology Marcos Pontes.
Galvao told the press that his dismissal wouldn’t affect INPE, an institution of international repute.
The latest data released by INPE shows that deforestation has increased 40 percent in the last two months compared to the same period a year ago.
For many years, NGOs defending the environment and the territorial rights of indigenous people have criticized the agriculture industry and major land owners for constantly trying to expand into virgin lands, including those protected by law.
Bolsonaro, though, was helped in his election last year by support from the powerful agriculture lobby.
In Europe, other organizations have used the INPE figures to question the recent free trade agreement signed between the European Union and Mercosur, the trade bloc made up of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.
“The deforestation data reveals what we all know: that it’s advancing at a rapid rate. And that creates a problem for the government because there’s huge national and international pressure,” former deputy environment minister Joao-Paulo Capobianco told AFP.
“There’s a massive offensive from sectors that profit greatly from the occupation of the Amazon, and the president of the republic has already shown before his election that he is completely ignorant about this issue. He doesn’t consider it relevant,” Capobianco said.
Bolsonaro suffered a blow on Thursday when the Supreme Court canceled a decree transferring the right to demarcate indigenous lands from the National Indian Foundation to the Ministry of Agriculture, a bulwark of the agriculture industry’s interests.


LIVE: Davos 2020 Day One - Thunberg slams elites, Trump hails US economic rebound

Updated 4 min 16 sec ago

LIVE: Davos 2020 Day One - Thunberg slams elites, Trump hails US economic rebound

  • Discussion panels featuring a number of high profile figures from the political, business and civil world.
  • Environment and climate issues on agenda, but Iran and Lebanon expected to feature heavily

The World Economic Forum 2020 started on Tuesday in Davos in Switzerland. Greta Thunberg kicked off the three day forum in a panel discussion on Sustainable Path towards a Common Future.

There will be discussion panels featuring a number of high profile figures from the political, business and civil world.

They will discuss a wide range of subjects including the environment and climate issues, but Iran and Lebanon are expected to feature heavily.

Follow Arab News’ coverage below

13:45 - Bollywood superstar and mental health ambassador Deepika Padukone has a very honest and inspiring conversation with World Health Organization's director-general about her own experiences with mental illness and how the stigma surrounding it can be ended...

In 2017, Padukone spoke vividly about her struggle with depression and the stigma that surrounded it. She also described how she decided to speak out, so others wouldn't have to suffer in the same way she did. Watch the Crystal Awardee speaking earlier at Davos:

13:00 - Saudi Arabia's Minister for Communications and IT Abdullah Al-Swaha has been speaking on a panel about the strategic outlook for Middle East economies. He makes the salient point that if countries want their economies to grow, they must focus on youth, technology and the empowerment of women...

11:30 - US President Donald Trump reverted to his role as salesman Tuesday, telling a gathering of the world's top businessmen in the Swiss Alps that he's led a “spectacular” turnaround of the US economy and encouraged them to invest in America.

He reminded the audience that when he spoke here two years ago, early in his presidency, “I told you that we had launched the great American comeback."

“Today I’m proud to declare the United States is in the midst of an economic boom, the likes of which the world has never seen before,” the president said.

Read more of the US President's address at Davos here: Trump lauds US economy in Davos, says little on climate woes

11:00 - Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson delivered a special message from Pope Francis. He called on everyone to remember that we are all members of one human family, and that we have a moral obligation to care for one another.

And he asked for a renewed ethical approach in the forthcoming discussions, including in the discipline of economics.

10:30 - The historian Yuval Noah Harari struck a pessimistic note at the opening of this session on the technology arms race. 

"On the most shallow level it could be a repeat of the 19thcentury industrial revolution, when the leaders had the chance to dominate the world economically and politically... I understand the current arms race as an imperial arms race... You don't need to send the soldiers in if you have all the data on a country," says Harari.

10:00 - In one of the first sessions of the WEF, Greta Thunberg said the voices of science and youth need to be at the center of the conversations on environment and future during “Forging a Sustainable Path towards a Common Future” panel discussion. 

Read more on her speech hereThunberg condemns climate inaction as Trump joins Davos