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CBC coordinators evaluate the first half of 2020

Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic state for Covid-19, several attempts to contain the spread of the virus have been proposed and implemented, such as, for example, the social isolation of the population. The “new normal” was established and several institutions, including the Centro Brasil no Clima (CBC), needed to adapt to a new routine and working relationship. In addition to the global health crisis, the first six months of 2020 were marked by political crises, post-pandemic economic reconstruction and neglect of the Amazon - which became headlines almost daily by newspapers around the world - generating a series of consequences and impacts on relations between Brazil and abroad. Evaluated as the year of the environment by the scientific community, 2020 opened the eyes of many to the importance of discussing the climate agenda.

The CBC project coordinator, Marília Closs says that, even though the pandemic has raised some hopes regarding significant changes in the climate agenda, the reality was not quite like that. The illusion has been created that two elements can advance the climate agenda. The first discourse would be that the pandemic could have good consequences for the climate agenda, such as the decrease in the use of fossil energy, and the second discourse is marked by a greater reflection on the way in which society relates to natural resources, reflecting in two crises of the same cause: poor management and poor relationship with the environment. However, the reality was not quite like that. According to her, there were no major advances in the environmental and climate agendas in Brazil.

“The climate agenda is not going to move forward naturally due to the pandemic. We need a big political effort, and in Brazil it was the opposite that happened. (...) We see leaders thinking about this green recovery, more sustainable, but these are not necessarily winning the political dispute in the world ”, said Marília.

The federal government's anti-environmental policy in Brazil has allowed carte blanche for Amazon deforesters, which has led to record numbers of deforestation in the region in recent months. According to data from the Imazon Deforestation Alert System, in the first half of this year, the Amazon totaled 2,544 km² of deforested area, an increase of 24% compared to the first half of last year. Deforestation is now the main emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the country, which in order to comply with its NDC needs to stop illegal deforestation.

For the CBC project coordinator, Alexandre Batista, the Bolsonaro government's actions to control illegal deforestation went in the opposite direction. This fact was illustrated by the speech of the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, about “passing the cattle”, explaining a possible dismantling of the legal and inspection framework related to the environment. It also highlights the so-called MP of grilagem, currently in the form of a Bill, and also the employment of military personnel in the operation of Guarantee of Law and Order (GLO) to combat fires in the forest region. “Here it is important to highlight: GLO in the Amazon is receiving more resources than the entire budget for actions and inspection by IBAMA in the year 2020, and yet with much less result and effect. This happens because those who plan the actions are not experts on the subject, they do not know what works or does not work as IBAMA's own technical team. So, in practice, if on the one hand allocating a larger budget than the last few years to deal with the problem is positive, on the other hand it is a waste of taxpayer resources, since the actions are carried out less effectively. Finally, it is worth noting that the military itself is beginning to complain that the budget for the GLO is being severely restricted by the government. ”

Even with the uproar of public environmental policies in Brazil and on the world stage, Marília Closs believes that the pandemic opened up the possibility of connecting the health crisis agenda with environmental issues, favoring greater knowledge on the agenda and opening space for activism in networks, so that, when normality is established, third sector groups are stronger and more present in the fight to mitigate climate change.

The new “normal” generated new opportunities

Directly affected by the pandemic, o Centro Brasil no Clima, saw in the networks a new way of relating to other institutions and continuing its pioneering work: developing actions and policies against climate change at the subnational level. Even with a more intense production of work, the connection between CBC projects with civil and political society became even closer and more active, enabling the renewal of several projects, such as the activation of climate change forums in different states of the world. Brazil. The project coordinator, Guilherme Lima, said that this more virtual communication facilitated the connection between the different actors and the possibility of exploring the institution's work more. Guilherme notes that despite the ease of relating to society, it is still very difficult to have this articulation with the government, causing a difficulty in articulating with the outside, since many of the financial resources for climate change in Brazil come from international investments.

In these first six months, the CBC focused on its subnational performance by exploring the perspective of municipal elections, building a network of climate education and training for future candidates. “This CBC strategy of focusing on the subnational level is interesting because it helps to signal the importance of having this work with the states and also with municipalities, because, in fact, emissions occur in the states, and when we work at the national level there are many action policies that at the state and municipal level are left out of the analysis. CBC has managed to expand its network of operations, it is forming links with several states and with other institutions that operate in those states as well, ”said Guilherme regarding CBC's achievements in its projects.

The early and tragic loss of a leader and reference, Alfredo Sirkis, from Centro Brasil no Clima

The tragic and unexpected loss of the institution's leader and founder, Alfredo Sirkis, a big name for Brazilian environmental activism, on July 10, in a car accident in the state of Rio de Janeiro, touched all the institution's coordinators, who expressed the same feeling: to continue the legacy that Sirkis left. For them, the only way to show thanks and respect is to work hard so that Sirkis' struggle is not forgotten.

Looking at the performance for the start of work in the year 2020 of the CBC, the coordinators highlighted the positive and satisfactory feeling of the institution's performance. For them, the pandemic, tragic as it is, did not prevent greater recognition for the projects scheduled for the year, and, with that, it was possible to bring even more results to the institution. Coordinator Marília Closs evaluates the first six months of the CBC as "resilient". “We faced many challenges: the negation of the federal government, the pandemic and the tragic loss of our greatest leadership, which is Alfredo Sirkis, and even so, we continue to work and believe in our work and believe that we can build a climate agenda in the Brazil in partnership with several social sectors ”.

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