WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY

On World Environment Day, Brasil’s Minister Marina Silva highlights the urgency of environmental actions

In a speech to the nation, Marina Silva highlighted World Environment Day and the urgency of environmental protection and climate change mitigation, both of which are priority topics for the G20. The minister announced Federal Government measures such as an updated national strategy, greater focus on the climate emergency and zero deforestation by 2030.

06/05/2024 10:34 AM - Modified 17 days ago
Climate catastrophes reiterate the urgency of discussing climate change and taking care of the planet | Image: Freepik

In a nationwide speech on radio and TV, Brasil’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Marina Silva addressed topics that are considered crucial to environmental protection and mitigating the effects of climate change. The speech marked World Environment Day, June 5.

The Minister highlighted that extreme weather events such as the recent and tragic heavy rains in the state Rio Grande do Sul—resulting in great suffering for thousands of affected families—reflect increasing global temperatures. "The status quo demands from us not only awareness, but immediate action. When we protect rivers, forests, and our rich biodiversity, we are in fact protecting and caring for people," stated Marina Silva.

The Minister emphasized that the Federal Government, under the guidance of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is responding in a rapid and coordinated way to climate disasters—hand-in-hand with states and municipalities. "We are working to make up for lost time and to do what needs to be done for the benefit of all Brazilian citizens," she said.

Marina Silva announced the completion of an update to the national climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy, alongside the launch of a national plan focusing on the climate emergency, especially in most hazardous areas. The Minister mentioned the zero-deforestation goal for all Brazilian biomes, highlighting the 50% drop in deforestation in the Amazon. "We are being challenged to think together, to create sustainable technologies, to transition to non-polluting energies, and to do so with greater social equality", she said.

According to the minister, over the coming years the government will be dedicated to protecting and recovering biodiversity; to leveraging bioeconomy; and to increasing environmental quality both in cities and rural areas. Marina also made an optimistic observation about COP30, to be held in Belém next year. "Let's make a difference and show that we are united in building an ecologically sustainable future and creating a cycle of prosperity for all Brazilian citizens—alongside democracy, reduced social inequality, greater respect for diversity, and sustainability", she stated.

Minister Marina Silva closed the speech by calling on all Brazilians to unite in favor of a sustainable future. "Protecting the environment means ensuring a good life for riverside dwellers, small tradespeople, those living on the outskirts of cities, traditional communities and people living in hazardous areas.”

G20: focus on the bioeconomy and on the impacts of climate change

Marina Silva, Brasil’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change | Image: Audiovisual G20
Marina Silva, Brasil’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change | Image: Audiovisual G20

Since assuming the G20 presidency, Brasil has reiterated its commitments, all of them aligned with the urgent need for sustainable global policies. By complying with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Brasil strives for innovative solutions to combat climate change, protect biodiversity and promote an inclusive green economy.

Among the highlights are the commitment to achieving zero deforestation across all biomes by 2030, and the strengthening of bioeconomy, with an emphasis on the sustainable use of natural resources and the creation of green jobs. Brasil is also increasing investments in renewable energy—such as solar, wind, and biomass—towards reducing its dependence on fossil fuels and minimizing environmental impacts. These initiatives reflect the country's commitment to promoting sustainable development alongside environmental protection, and are among the priorities of discussions by the Climate and Environmental Sustainability Working Group and the Task Force for Global Mobilization against Climate Change.

Human action and the increasing intensity of floods

Level of the Guaíba River surpassed that of the historic 1941 flood, rising above 5 meters in Porto Alegre | Image: Mauricio Tonetto/SecomRS
Level of the Guaíba River surpassed that of the historic 1941 flood, rising above 5 meters in Porto Alegre | Image: Mauricio Tonetto/SecomRS

The recent floods in Southern Brasil, especially in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, have left a trail of destruction. According to Civil Defense data, more than 80 thousand people have been displaced. The disaster— which peaked on May 29—resulted in the tragic loss of 172 lives; 42 people are still missing. Cities such as Porto Alegre, Eldorado do Sul, Canoas, Guaíba, Novo Hamburgo, Estrela, and Encantado were particularly affected, and faced the highest levels of danger and exposure. A study found that human’s actions increased the intensity of rainfall in the state by 15%, resulting in a flood of historic proportions that affected around 2.3 million people.

Different research by an international team of scientists from Brasil, the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands and the US is investigating the causes and implications of flooding. The World Weather Attribution studies how climate change causes extreme events around the world. In July 2021, for instance, a WWA report revealed that climate change has made a heatwave at least 150 times more likely and 2°C more intense in the Pacific Northwest of the US and Canada.

Extreme weather events around the world

Damages by flooding in Rudersberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany | Image: Getty Images/Thomas Niedermueller
Damages by flooding in Rudersberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany | Image: Getty Images/Thomas Niedermueller

Floods in Germany this year have caused serious problems; several regions were submerged following weeks of heavy rains. The storms and torrential rain led to deaths and evacuations. The situation is critical in several places where water levels continue to rise following records of up to 130 mm of rain.

In Afghanistan, tens of thousands of children continue to be affected by floods in the provinces of Baghlan, Badakhshan, and Ghor. The recent floods resulted in almost 350 deaths, including children; more than 7,800 homes were damaged and 5,000 families displaced. Extreme weather events, intensified by the climate crisis, demand a fast humanitarian intervention and international support to mitigate impacts, despite the country being among those that are least responsible for global emissions.

Regarding heat, several parts of India have been facing exceptionally high temperatures over recent days, forcing schools to close and special hubs to be created in hospitals to treat illnesses that are related to the heatwave. This year, the number of hot days in the Northwest and East of the country was more than double the usual, with temperatures in the range of 52.9°C—the highest ever recorded.

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