With Amazon on Fire, Environmental Officials in Open Revolt Against Bolsonaro – The New York Times

On Friday, under international pressure to act, Mr. Bolsonaro ordered a military operation to help put out the fires, and vowed that his government would take a “zero tolerance” approach to enforcing environmental laws.

Ibama workers said in their letter that they welcomed that move but worried that it would amount to an empty promise if it is not backed by a “permanent, continuous, strategic and effective enforcement mechanism.” Absent that, they added, “the rates of destruction of the Amazon rainforest will not diminish.”

Mr. Bolsonaro’s administration has bristled at international criticism over the fires, arguing that Brazil has done more than many other countries to preserve its forests.

The Ibama employees warned that failing to double down on conservation efforts would pose a bigger threat to economic growth.

“Respecting environmental protection laws matters especially to the Brazilian economy, which relies heavily on the export of commodities,” they wrote. “The global clamor for the protection of the Brazilian Amazon and the risk that the country could face economic sanctions targeting its exports make that all the more relevant.”

A company that is a major buyer of Brazilian leather warned that it might cancel purchases because of concerns over the relationship between agribusiness and the fires devastating the Amazon.

This buyer, VF Corporation, includes well-known international brands like Timberland, The North Face, Eagle Creek, Dickies, Vans, Kipling and others. Brazil’s leather goods trade organization, C.I.C.B., wrote to Brazil’s minister of the environment, Ricardo Salles, on Tuesday, informing him of the warning.

José Fernando Bello, the president of C.I.C.B., wrote, “The need to contain damages to the country’s image in the international market, in connection to Amazon issues, is undeniable.”

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