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A Bolsonaro supporter on election day. Photo: Phil Clarke Hill/In Pictures for Getty Images

The environmental platform put forward by Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's right-wing president-elect, could cause a rise in greenhouse gas emissions and a 268% spike in deforestation, according to a simulation from the National Institute of Space Studies in Brazil.

Why it matters: The simulation took into account policies like increased deforestation in Amazonian territory, non-protection of indigenous territory and an eventual exit from the Paris Climate Agreement, among others. Those scenarios worry environmental groups, with Greenpeace Brazil saying Bolsonaro could be "one of the last presidents of Brazil who can act in time to avoid irreversible damage to the planet."

Brazil has made some progress in recent years in reducing deforestation, according to Prodes, a government environmental institution. But that progress is now at risk.

  • A recent report from Global Forest Watch (GFW) finds that Brazil experienced its second-highest rate of tree cover loss in 2017, a phenomenon related to fires in the region. Although the fires can be related to natural climate factors such as El Niño, research also shows a direct link between them and agricultural expansion.

Christian Poirier, program director of Amazon Watch, told Axios he believes Bolsonaro's controversial rhetoric about minority groups is actually tied to his interest in removing environmental protections

  • “He attacks indigenous groups, or traditional communities such as 'Quilombolas' because they represent one of the main obstacles to execute his industrial expansionist plan," he says.

Why it matters: Brazil has the world's largest rainforest, and a weakening of environmental protections there can have irreversible consequences that affect people's lives — a recent severe drought in Sao Paulo, for example —and reach well beyond Brazil. Bolsonaro's policies could exacerbate those troubles.

  • For example, Brazil's hydroelectric power plants generate 63% of the country's energy. Poirier points out that environmental degradation would jeopardize the stable rainfall patterns that make hydroelectric plants feasible, and gas or coal-powered plants would have to fill the gap. Alternatives such as wind or solar energy aren't yet in a position to meet Brazil's energy needs.
  • If Brazil cuts down more rainforest, it would cause an uptick in greenhouse gas emissions, since healthy forests are a major carbon "sink." Given recent warnings of the urgency of cutting emissions, deforestation could jeopardize the world's global warming goals.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”