Tuesday, November 2, 2021

COP26 Deforestation Deal (Nov. 2, 2021)

Leaders of more than 100 countries, including Brazil, China, Russia and the United States, promised to end deforestation by 2030, the first major deal of the COP26 Climate Summit. The pledge, which includes almost $19.2 billion of public and private funds, will demand “transformative further action,” the countries’ declaration said. But some advocacy groups said measures detailed in the declaration are insufficient, and point to a previous deal's failure to dent deforestation. (BBCNew York Times)

The countries who have signed the pledge - including Canada, Brazil, Russia, China, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the US and the UK (the full list is here) - cover around 85 percent of the world's forests, a reason for optimism, as is the plan's aim to reinforce the role of indigenous people in protecting their trees, reports the BBC. Studies have shown that protecting the rights of native communities is one of the best ways of saving forested lands.

U.S. President Joe Biden said he would seek to contribute up to $9 billion to the global effort through 2030, while other governments committed $12 billion and private companies pledged $7 billion to protect and restore forests in a variety of ways, including $1.7 billion for Indigenous peoples. More than 30 financial institutions also vowed to stop investing in companies responsible for deforestation.

Brazil in particular has come under criticism for allowing an increase in the deforestation of the Amazon in recent years, notes CNN

Rainforest Foundation Norway welcomed the deal, but said that funding should only be given to countries that showed results.

More Climate
  • Brazil hopes to mend its tattered international climate reputation at COP26, and has arrived with ambitious environmental promises, including cutting emissions 50% and ending illegal deforestation entirely by 2030. But a large chorus of voices questions the Bolsonaro administration's credibility on this front, deforestation rose dramatically under the current government, though rates have plateaued over the past year, reports CNN.

  • Last year Brazil's government changed the baseline against which reductions are calculated, making it easier for Brazil’s targets to be met. Advocacy group Climate Observatory said that a 50 percent reduction was still weaker than the 43 percent commitment using the pre-Bolsonaro baseline, meaning Brazil had not, in reality, increased its ambition. (Al Jazeera)

  • The Brazilian government's plan falls far short of what is needed to address the environmental and human rights crisis in the Amazon rainforest, warns Human Rights Watch. “Brazil is completely out of step with the growing international consensus on the need to preserve forests and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Daniel Wilkinson, Acting Director of the Environment and Human Rights Division at Human Rights Watch.
  • Latin American countries must simultaneously mitigate climate change and adapt to its significant impacts (including drought and extreme weather events), Open Society Foundations' Heloisa Griggs told Voice of America.

  • Txai Suruí, a 24-year-old Indigenous climate activist from Brazil, spoke on the opening day of the global climate summit in Glasgow and made an eloquent appeal drawing attention to the devastating deforestation of the Amazon. Suruí told the heads of state in the audience that they were “closing your eyes to reality” and their timetables for reducing carbon emissions and scaling back the use of fossil fuels were inadequate. (New York Times)

  • Several leaders, among them Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister of Bangladesh, and Gaston Browne, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, pressed forcefully for a discussion of loss and damage. They are, in effect, demanding reparations of a sort for countries that bear little responsibility for the emissions warming the earth — but are already suffering the effects, reports the New York Times.

  • The countries of Central America’s Northern Triangle—El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—are especially vulnerable to the severe and worsening impacts of climate change. This trend is causing a growing humanitarian crisis in a region already wracked by poverty, inequality, and violence—and one which bears little responsibility for climate change. A new report by The Dialogue recommends the U.S. strengthen partnerships with civil society organizations and provide opportunities to vulnerable groups through climate assistance.

  • Ecuador will expand the marine reserve around the Galápagos Islands by 23,000 square miles, in a bid to preserve one of the places most vulnerable to climate change. President Guillermo Lasso said the government has agreed with the fishery, tourism and conservation sectors to establish the new marine reserve, reports the New York Times.

  • Argentina's government signed an investment agreement with Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest, a potential $8.4 billion "green hydrogen" investment that the Fernández administration estimates would make significant headway in decarbonizing the country's energy matrix. (Reuters, Página 12)
Opposition calls for boycott of Nicaragua's farcical election

Nicaragua's opposition has called on citizens to boycott this weekend's presidential election. President Daniel Ortega is up for his fourth reelection, which he seems likely to win, having detained all of his potential challengers over the past six months. The election is a complete farce, reports El Faro: without campaigning, debates, serious opposition candidates, international observers, or press scrutiny. There will be five other candidates alongside Ortega on the ballot, but none are considered real contenders by the opposition or international community.

The government has deployed judicial persecution as its main repressive strategy to eliminate electoral competition ahead of Sunday's vote, according to a new report by Observatorio Ciudadano Urnas Abiertas, IDEA Internacional and Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. The government has sought to maintain a veneer of legality, by applying irregular laws aimed at quashing opponents and criticism. (Confidencial)

A new CID Gallup poll found that 67 percent of Nicaraguans don't sympathize with any of the parties represented on Sunday's ballot. Just 9 percent support the ruling FSLN party, a historic low. And 76 percent of people polled consider Ortega's reelection will lack legitimacy, reports Confidencial.

A one-sided electoral victory for Ortega will create conditions for further instability, humanitarian crisis and emigration, warned the International Crisis Group last month.

“Inaction is the dictatorship’s closest ally,” wrote Nicaraguan journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro in a recent opinion piece for El Faro, in which he urged the international community to help reestablish democratic norms in Nicaragua.

"Ortega's deliberate and flagrant crackdown against peaceful opposition leaders is something without any precedent in Latin America since the '70s and '80s, when most of the region was under military dictatorship" Human Rights Watch's José Miguel Vivanco told 60 Minutes. While Ortega got away with the violent repression of anti-government protesters in 2018 -- at least 350 people were killed by police or pro-Ortega paramilitary groups -- Vivanco said Ortega also realized that if he lost power he might be imprisoned for what Nicaraguan journalists called a "massacre" of protestors.  

Facebook shuts down Ortega Troll Farm

Facebook, recently redubbed Meta Platforms, announced yesterday that last month it removed a troll farm over a 1000 Facebook and Instagram accounts allegedly owned by the Nicaraguan government and the country’s ruling FSLN party. The social media company said the troll farm, which aimed to manipulate public discourse using fake accounts, has been active on its platforms since 2018 and is mainly operated by employees from TELCOR, Nicaragua’s telecommunications guardian. Facebook said the Ortega allied Supreme Court, and the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute also ran smaller clusters of fake accounts, reports Reuters.

“This campaign was cross-platform as well as cross-government,” the company said. “It ran a complex network of media brands across Facebook, Tiktok, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Blogspot and Telegram, as well as websites tied to these news entities. They posted positive content about the government and negative commentary about the opposition, using hundreds of fake accounts to promote these posts.” (Associated Press)

News Briefs

  • Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández announced a significant increase to a subsidy for the country's poor this week. Opposition politicians and critics said the increase, along with other subsidies, are a blatant attempt to sway voters ahead of this month's presidential election. (El Pulso, Criterio)

  • It has been a bloody pre-electoral period: with 24 candidates and close relatives were murdered, more than in 2017, notes Daniel Langmeier in his monthly Honduras human rights report.

  • Last month Honduran lawmakers approved reforms to the national legislation on the criminal definitions of usurpation and forced displacement currently used to criminalize and prosecute social protest actions and demands for rights of human rights organizations, articulated in peasant organizations, indigenous and Black peoples, and social movements, notes Langmeier.
Regional Relations
  • In what appears to be an act of propaganda ahead of elections this month, and a challenge to Salvadoran president Nayib Bukele, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega held a meeting last week in Managua to announce a treaty to recognize border limits between the two countries, particularly in the disputed Gulf of Fonseca. (El Faro)
  • UK supermarket price wars are hurting banana farmers who are forced to bear the brunt of inflation and increased production costs, reports the Guardian.
  • The Ecuadorean government's militarized response to increased insecurity "ignores the structural violence that has deeply affected security in Ecuador even before the pandemic, and it doesn’t acknowledge factors such as economic instability causing youth recruitment by gangs or the fact that many gang members are forcibly recruited," Claudia Donoso told the Latin America Advisor. (See Oct. 19's post.)
  • Brazil's inflation rate will be over 10 percent this year, despite the Central Bank's efforts to contain it by raising interest rates. (Axios)

  • An esports revolution is sweeping through Brazil’s favelas, reports Rest of World. (Yes, the article defines esports.)
Critter Corner
  • Animals in Cuba's National Zoo took advantage of the peace and quiet brought on by the coronavirus pandemic for romantic encounters that resulted in a bumper crop of exotic and endangered baby animals. (Reuters)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...


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