Nov 19, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Amazon deforestation in Brazil surges to worst in 15 years

General view of a burnt area of the Amazonia rainforest in the surroundings of the city of Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil, on September 15, 2021.

General view of a burnt area of the Amazonia rainforest in the surroundings of the city of Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil, on September 15, 2021. Photo: Mauro Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest reached a 15-year high after it soared 22% in one year, according to data published Thursday.

Why it matters: The Amazon is the world's largest tropical rainforest and stores vast quantities of CO2, the primary greenhouse gas.

By the numbers: Nearly 13,235 square kilometers (5,110 sq. miles) was lost during the 2020-2021 period — the most since 2006, according to the data.

The big picture: The Brazilian Amazon hadn't recorded a single year with more than 10,000 kilometers of deforestation in over a decade, AP notes.

  • Deforestation of the Amazon increased under President Jair Bolsonaro.
  • Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest accelerated and reached a 12-year high in 2020 according to data from Brazil's National Institute for Space Research published last December.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Andrew Freedman: The agreement to combat deforestation was one of the key outcomes that occurred on the sidelines of COP26, in addition to the formal Glasgow Climate Pact.

  • The new data underscores how big a challenge the global community faces in order to rein in deforestation in a country where the government has enacted policies that do the opposite, and instead ease the development of rainforest lands.

What they're saying: "It is a shame. It is a crime," said Márcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory, a network of environmental nonprofit groups, to AP.

  • "We are seeing the Amazon rainforest being destroyed by a government which made environmental destruction its public policy."

Go deeper... Research: Protected land status determines a forest's fate

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