Biden's hopes to save the Amazon fade around Brazil's 'crooked' environment minister

Biden’s hopes to save the Amazon fade around Brazil’s ‘crooked’ environment minister

Joe Biden dislodged Donald Trump after a campaign in which he promised to reverse the country’s role as a climate laggard, including pledging $20bn (£14bn) to help save tropical rainforests.

Halting and even reversing destruction in the Amazon has become a way for Mr Biden to prove that the US can be a global leader on climate change once again, and he has toyed with the idea of setting up a global fund to pay Brazil to stop cutting down the rainforest.

But dealing with the South American giant is proving tricky, with Mr Salles rapidly eroding the credibility of an already hostile administration.

Ahead of a virtual climate summit in April hosted by Mr Biden, Mr Salles led calls for direct payment to end deforestation, saying Brazil would need a $10 billion annual fund from the rest of the world to be carbon neutral by 2050.

In the lead up to the summit Mr Salles was having frequent talks with John Kerry, Biden’s climate tsar. A trip to the UK by Mr Salles was also on the cards.

But shortly before the summit, nearly 200 Brazilian civil society groups and 15 US senators separately wrote to the administration, appealing for him to back away from doing a direct deal, and arguing that it was “not sensible to expect any solutions for the Amazon to stem from closed-door meetings with its worst enemy”.

“It was made very clear from a wide range of civil society groups that a deal with Bolsonaro would have been worse than nothing,” said Daniel Brindis, international strategy adviser at Greenpeace US.

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