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Rainforest Politics in Brazil and Congo

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My colleague Dionne Sircy embarked on a journey along the Congo River that unveiled the vast and unplanned timber industry behind the destruction of the rainforest, which is essential to efforts to curb global warming. ..

In this article, I’ve described a problem that is very similar to the one I saw in the report on the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. The history of deforestation epidemics, communities that rely on illegal industries, and corrupt leadership.

However, there is one important difference.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro refused to recognize the problem and aggressively undermined environmental protection policies, but President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo hoped that he would become a leader in climate change. is.

Congo and Brazil have two of the largest rainforests in the world. Their government policies will shape the ability of these forests to remain strong carbon sinks and shelters. Almost half Of the seeds of the world.

I talked to Dionne and understood the similarities and differences between the two countries.

Manuela: Forests in Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo seem to face very similar challenges. However, President Jair Bolsonaro’s response was to turn a blind eye to environmental crime. How do current Congolese leaders view these issues?

Dionne: Now in power, the people in power have expressed their willingness to protect the country’s resources and have gone to the Global Climate Conference to work with President Biden and other Western leaders to protect the forest. I’m making a fuss to get attention and resources.Recently hired Congolese officials DC lobbyist Promote support for climate issues, especially in economic issues.

When meeting with President Chisekedi last year, he said, “Renewable energy has amazing potential, whether it’s strategic metals or rivers,” referring to both mining and hydropower. .. “Our idea is how to make this amazing resource freely available to the world, but make sure it first benefits the Congolese and the Africans. While? “

Manuela: This is reminiscent of the movement Brazil experienced in the 1980s after the end of the military dictatorship that ruled the country for decades. The democratic government has enacted very restrictive legislation and has begun to put together strong environmental protection agencies. Have you had a moment like when your attitude changed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?

Dionne: President Tshisekedi came to power in a contested election after decades of corrupt leaders. President Tshisekedi has gained strong support from the United States as the United States and other Western nations have been eager to take power of his predecessor, former President Joseph Kabila, and U.S. diplomats have a climate. Promoting the problem. However, after spending the first few years of his term supporting leadership in the country, he had little time to drive climate change efforts and is now in his reelection and politics with neighboring Rwanda. I am facing tension.

Manuela: Democratic Republic of the Congo officials have told you that almost everyone involved in logging violates the law in some way, and that is happening in clear sight. In Brazil, we can see that many Amazon cities are illegally acquiring, mining, and logging land at the heart of their economy. What is the driving force behind this reality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?

Dionne: Many people in the Congolese forest are just trying to survive. Forests are most often logged so that they can be cultivated or made charcoal to cook fire, but industrial and so-called craftsmanship (or small-scale) logging plays a role in deforestation. In Congo, so many forces dating back to colonialism, which began many generations ago, are working to complicate the modification of broken systems. The country is facing war, and there are a series of corrupt leaders who have used the country’s abundant natural resources as piggy banks. This kind of structural problem cannot be easily solved. And, in general, the collapse of government leads to territories in remote areas of the forest.

Manuela: Many observers believe that the reason protection policies did not survive under Brazil’s current administration was its lack of focus on job creation in non-destructive industries. Is the Congolese leadership thinking about this part of the problem?

Dionne: This conversation is the topic of endless academic seminars and government conferences in Congo and around the world. Many organizations are experimenting with projects in small areas, but it doesn’t seem like everyone has a silver bullet solution yet.World Bank started lending a few years ago Mai Ndombe Sustainability Program Residents plant in devastated land and pay for acacia saplings that can later be used for charcoal and construction. Logging companies are also technically required to carry out social projects in the logging communities. However, residents say that those deals are not always upheld.

Manuela: One of the most memorable things about Amazon’s environmental crisis is that many of the destructive methods such as leather and gold are sold cheaply to wealthy countries, making far greater profits in manufacturing. It is to raise. product. How do people in the Congo Basin see this imbalance?

Dionne: The people we meet in Congo in the process of reporting on globally important natural resources such as cobalt and trees are overwhelmed by this imbalance. Some of the loggers I’ve met make $ 6 a day to get their logs to market, which can be a dangerous and deadly job. When reporting a series on cobalt, the metal used in electric car and iPhone batteries, many miners working in horrific situations didn’t know where cobalt was heading. When I told them, they were in grief.

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thank you for reading. I’ll be back on Friday.

Claire O’Neill, Sarah Graham and Douglas Alteen contributed to Climate Forward.

Please contact Climateforward@nytimes.com. We read every message and reply to many!

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