In a speech delivered Wednesday at the Climate Conference (COP27) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, the recently elected president of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said that “Brazil is back” and that he intends to renew relations with the rest of the world, after the presidency of his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro who had complicated relations with many countries. Lula gave the speech just two weeks after his own victory in the Brazilian presidential runoff, obtained with a limited margin over Bolsonaro, who will keep his post until next January. Lula, who is 77 years old, is considered a symbol of the South American and world left: he had already been president of Brazil from 2003 to 2011.
In his speech at COP27, Lula said he wanted to restore protection for the natural heritage of the Amazon and that he wanted to prosecute climate crimes: «We must stop this race towards the abyss. There is no climate security for the world without the protection of the Amazon. […] We will do whatever it takes to eradicate deforestation.”
For Lula, however, keeping his promise will not be easy: Brazil has emerged deeply divided by the elections and by the Bolsonaro presidency, under which many commitments on environmental protection were not respected, starting precisely with the Amazon.
In addition to the divisions in the country, Lula will have to face opposition from the Brazilian Congress to be able to review some of Bolsonaro’s choices on the environment. To do this it will be necessary to reform some government agencies, reactivate the funds suspended by the outgoing president for the protection of the Amazon and review some regulations to sanction crimes against the environment.
More generally, Lula used COP27 to send a signal to the international community, in the most direct way possible:
I want to tell you that Brazil is back. Brazil is back to reconnect with the world and help fight hunger. To cooperate again with the poorest countries, starting with Africa, and to cooperate in the transfer of technologies and to build a better future for our peoples. We’re back. We have returned to build a new world order based on dialogue and multilateralism.
Lula’s long political career that began as a trade unionist had been marred by a series of scandals and a corruption conviction that led to his imprisonment, which was later overturned and considered politically motivated by his supporters. His presidency years were a period of great economic growth in Brazil, characterized by strong and effective interventions in the fight against poverty and hunger among the poorest sections of the population, thanks to programs of social funds and direct economic support such as “Bolsa Familia” and “Fome Zero”. According to analysts, the current political and economic situation in Brazil could complicate plans for Lula, making it difficult to keep the promises announced during his speech yesterday.