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house Bill H.R. 4263

Should Brazil Face Trade Sanctions & Frozen Foreign Aid Until it Acts to Combat the Amazon Fires?

Argument in favor

The Amazon wildfires pose a threat not only to Brazil, but to the global environment. The Bolsonaro administration’s handling of this issue is inexcusable, and the international community should use all the tools at its disposal, including trade and aid sanctions, to pressure the Brazilian government into action.

jimK's Opinion
···
10/11/2019
Well at least we are still leading the world in something. More and more countries are electing and supporting authoritarian nationalistic nimrods who feel no obligation to be responsible members of the world’s community; They do not care about the global consequences of their actions. So yes, use whatever leverage we have left to force the issue that the Amazon rain forest is is needed to help thwart global climate change. Document the South American countries whose people are literally starving due to climate change induced collapse of their food supply. Our country will need to measure and accurately publicly document the global consequences of current climate changes and provide and publicly share updated forecasts of pending changes. We have the best and most available resources for publicly spreading the word and for taking realistic actions to force world leaders to take note.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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10/11/2019
The selfishness and greed of a few should not destroy the future of humanity.
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Julio's Opinion
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10/11/2019
Brazil cannot hold the worlds lungs hostage. Their incompetence should not be left unchecked.
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Argument opposed

The Amazon wildfires are only affecting the peripheral parts of the forest, and don’t pose an “existential threat” to humanity. The international community sanctioning Brazil won’t do anything to help the situation, and would likely make it less capable of fighting the fires. It isn’t the place of America or any other country to criticize Brazil for its wildfire management.

Mart's Opinion
···
10/11/2019
Why is it you people can deride, harass, and sanction every nation on earth, but can’t pass a budget, can’t get over 2016, can’t read the Constitution?
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Jim2423's Opinion
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10/11/2019
Why don’t we leave other countries alone. What have we done to enable Brazil not to burn. Sanctions only harm/hurt the little guy. We are so powerful that we crush the little guy. Sanctions don’t hurt those in charge of their country. Such a macho country we are.
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Tom's Opinion
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10/11/2019
After California is penalized for not controlling its “wild fires”.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
    IntroducedSeptember 10th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 4263?

This bill — the Act for the Amazon Act — would aim to put pressure on Brazil to combat the record number of wildfires burning in the Amazon rainforest by blocking imports from Brazil and halting all U.S. aid to the country. The objective of those sanctions would be to pressure Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to take steps to reduce deforestation by the farming and mining industries, which are contributing to the wildfires.

Specifically, this bill would ban key imports from Brazil and halt military and security assistance to the country until action is taken to combat rainforest wildfires. These measures would include: 

  • Banning targeted imports from Brazil, including beef, soybeans, and other commodities contributing to deforestation (including leather and hide, timber, sugar, pulp and paper, tobacco, corn, and petroleum);
  • Freezing targeted aid funding to Brazil; and
  • Prohibiting the Trump administration from negotiating a free trade agreement with Brazil.

Impact

Imports from Brazil; targeted aid funding to Brazil; free trade negotiations with Brazil; Brazil; the Amazon; and Amazon fires.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4263

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced this bill to put pressure on Brazil to combat the record number of wildfires burning in the Amazon rainforest

“President Jair Bolsonaro believes he can act with impunity and accelerate the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, and he needs to know there are real-life consequences for his reckless actions. I’m angered, but not surprised, that President Trump wholeheartedly supports [Brazilian President Jair] Bolsonaro’s game of chicken with humanity’s existence. Though thousands of miles away from Oregon, the Amazon serves as the lungs of the earth. Without significant intervention to curtail destruction of the rainforest, it will impact rainfall in the United States, dramatically reduce our crop yields and food supply, and increase the extreme conditions for catastrophic wildfires in the Pacific Northwest.”

In a separate statement, Rep. DeFazio accused Bolsonaro of “encourag[ing] deforestation, destroying the rainforest, displacing the indigenous peoples… [and] think[ing] he can get a free ride.” He said this legislation will show Bolsonaro “that he can’t get a free ride from the United States of America, at least, on this.”

Andrew Miller, advocacy director at Amazon Watch, says this bill would serve as an important act of American solidarity with the Amazon

"As long as we purchase commodities from a burning Amazon, we are complicit in the rainforest's destruction. Not only must the Brazilian authorities stop the fires, but also the spiking deforestation and imminent threats to indigenous territories. Brazil's indigenous movement has called for a boycott of products like beef and soy that are catalyzing land invasions and deadly conflicts within their territories. By supporting the Act on the Amazon Act, U.S. voters can stand in solidarity with the urgent indigenous plea to protect the Amazon."

In an August 23, 2019 Slate article, Joshua Keating praises the European Union’s use of trade threats — specifically French and Irish leaders’ treat to block a landmark trade agreement between the EU and the South American trading bloc Mercosur unless Brazil shows a commitment to protecting the environment — as an example of how governments can use trade sanctions to “get tough on climate change outlaws.” However, while it might be tempting to see this as an example the U.S. could follow (as this bill proposes), Keating argues that the powerful global economies who are themselves the world’s largest carbon emitters (such as the U.S., China, and Russia) can’t credibly use this tool. He explains: 

“If the world’s largest emitters take steps to punish poorer, developing countries for not tackling their own emissions, it won’t only be hypocritical—it will be useless.Sanctions and economic pressure on emissions outlaws may eventually be part of the toolkit for tackling the climate crisis, but for it to work, the world’s major economies—particularly the U.S.—need to get their own houses in order.” 

In an August 27, 2019 article in The Atlantic, Peter Brannen argues that while tragic, the Amazon’s loss to wildfires doesn’t pose an existential threat to the planet. He explains: 

“Losing the Amazon, beyond representing a planetary historic tragedy beyond measure, would also make meeting the ambitious climate goals of the Paris Agreement all but impossible. World leaders need to marshal all their political and diplomatic might to save it. The Amazon is a vast ineffable, vital, living wonder. It does not, however, supply the planet with 20 percent of its oxygen… The Amazon produces about 6 percent of the oxygen currently being made by photosynthetic organisms alive on the planet today. But surprisingly, this is not where most of our oxygen comes from. In fact, from a broader Earth system perspective, in which the biosphere not only creates but also consumes free oxygen, the Amazon’s contribution to our planet’s unusual abundance of the stuff is more or less zero… Contrary to almost every popular account, Earth maintains an unusual surfeit of free oxygen—an incredibly reactive gas that does not want to be in the atmosphere—largely due not to living, breathing trees, but to the existence, underground, of fossil fuels.”

Although the Trump administration has said it’s “deeply concerned” about the Amazon fires, President Trump has defended Bolsonaro on Twitter. In a tweet, he said, “He is working very hard on the Amazon fires and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil — Not easy." In a responding tweet, Bolsonaro wrote, “Thank you, President @realDonaldTrump. We're fighting the wildfires with great success. Brazil is and will always be an international reference in sustainable development. The fake news campaign built against our sovereignty will not work. The US can always count on Brazil.”

This legislation has 15 Democratic cosponsors. It’s supported by a range of environmental and Amazon advocacy organizations, including Amazon Watch, Rainforest Action Network, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Friends of the Earth.


Of NoteIn 2019 alone, Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research has recorded about 40,000 forest fires in the Amazon rainforest. This is a 77% increase over 2018. According to experts, this dramatic uptick is largely attributable to increased deforestation and burning practices by Brazilian farmers and miners. 

Rather than working to aggressively tackle the Amazon wildfires and combat illegal deforestation, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has actively undermined environmental enforcement protections and encouraged these practices. He’s also worked to discredit his own government agencies and sought to cast blame nongovernmental organizations for starting the fires despite lack of evidence for these claims.

Carlos Nobre, a senior researcher with the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of São Paulo, says the current surge is deforestation is taking the Amazon close to a tipping point beyond which swaths of the rainforest will become a dry savannah. This would have consequences for the climate, wildlife, and forest dwellers. He adds that deforestation is on course to rise by 20-30% this year, and is “very likely” to pass 10,000 square kilometers for the first time in over a decade. 

While this trend has been worsening for several years, it’s accelerated under Bolsonaro, as his administration has weakened the Brazilian environmental agency and expressed support for miners, farmers, and loggers. Nobre says

“The situation is very bad. It will be terrible. A very large number of these fires are due to the cultural push that ministers are giving. They are pushing deforestation because it is good for the economy. Those who do illegal deforestation are feeling empowered.”

Given domestic institutions’ powerlessness to sway the Bolsonaro administration from its current course of action, Nobre says external protests, consumer actions, and international pressure are the only path forward

“Politicians in Brazil pay more attention to international pressure than the voice of Brazilians. I think international pressure is essential to reverse this tragic pathway. The agriculture sector in Brazil is very concerned that European consumers won’t buy Brazil produce. This may be the ultimate way to stop the Brazilian government from a suicide of the Amazon, which will have terrible consequences for the climate and for Brazil.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Brasil2)

AKA

Act for the Amazon Act

Official Title

To prohibit importation of certain products of Brazil, to prohibit certain assistance to Brazil, and to prohibit negotiations to enter into a free trade agreement with Brazil.

    Well at least we are still leading the world in something. More and more countries are electing and supporting authoritarian nationalistic nimrods who feel no obligation to be responsible members of the world’s community; They do not care about the global consequences of their actions. So yes, use whatever leverage we have left to force the issue that the Amazon rain forest is is needed to help thwart global climate change. Document the South American countries whose people are literally starving due to climate change induced collapse of their food supply. Our country will need to measure and accurately publicly document the global consequences of current climate changes and provide and publicly share updated forecasts of pending changes. We have the best and most available resources for publicly spreading the word and for taking realistic actions to force world leaders to take note.
    Like (73)
    Follow
    Share
    Why is it you people can deride, harass, and sanction every nation on earth, but can’t pass a budget, can’t get over 2016, can’t read the Constitution?
    Like (23)
    Follow
    Share
    The selfishness and greed of a few should not destroy the future of humanity.
    Like (62)
    Follow
    Share
    Brazil cannot hold the worlds lungs hostage. Their incompetence should not be left unchecked.
    Like (43)
    Follow
    Share
    We cannot allow Bolsonaro and his government to destroy the Amazon, which puts our entire planet at risk. Sanctions seem like a good start.
    Like (27)
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    Amazon rainforests are a diverse ecological place that is responsible for some of the oxygen we breathe. Without them we would be plunging further into our current climate crisis. I’ve been hearing about climate change for my entire 37 years and its getting more serious with every passing day. We shouldn’t fool around with not giving aid to Ukraine because of politics. The corruption is in Brazil. We need protection of our worlds resources. We are a world wide economy and share world wide resources. What brazil does here affects all of us. Stop messing around with politics and focus on holding Brazil accountable. And money talks. Use it in a positive way. Think of your grandchildren.
    Like (17)
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    Yes, sanctions should have already happened to Brazil, as nothing is being done to quell the fires in the Amazon. I strongly urge our government to sit with other leaders, including Bolsonaro, to develop solutions. Our planet cannot sustain the growing want for beef products. This is the cause of so many acres of rainforest being burned...to raise cattle. We all need to change our ways.
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    Why don’t we leave other countries alone. What have we done to enable Brazil not to burn. Sanctions only harm/hurt the little guy. We are so powerful that we crush the little guy. Sanctions don’t hurt those in charge of their country. Such a macho country we are.
    Like (14)
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    Pressuring Brazil to combat the wildfires burning in the Amazon rainforest and pressuring Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to take steps to reduce deforestation is an important step to protect earth for future generations.
    Like (14)
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    The Amazon burns. California burns. Notre Dame burns. And committees plan meetings and schedule focus groups and discuss possibilities and assign blame and issue official statements, and the Amazon burns.
    Like (13)
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    Well, this bill only covers half of the story. I would prefer a “carrot and stick” approach. It is okay to sanction them for the bad behavior, but we (along with the rest of the world) should be ready with significant support, as they are not a major 1st world country. We have an obligation to lead(it’s a shame we don’t have a president who can).
    Like (11)
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    Setting the rain forest on fire is a psychopathic act it will affect all life on earth not just the lives of the people and animals in its wake.
    Like (10)
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    Every country is obligated to safeguard the environment and should have accountability to the global community
    Like (9)
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    After California is penalized for not controlling its “wild fires”.
    Like (7)
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    Yes. The destruction of the Amazon affects the entire world, as it takes away a key sponge of carbon dioxide. Brazil must be stopped.
    Like (7)
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    Absolutely. Those forests are crucial to the international community.
    Like (7)
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    The AMAZON IS OUR PLANET’S LUNGS = HUMAN SURVIVAL
    Like (7)
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    Any incentive to save one of the worlds most valuable resource
    Like (6)
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    Of course!!!!!! The Amazon rain forest makes up for 20% of the world’s oxygen. Not doing anything is plain stupid.
    Like (6)
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    Incentivize them, and make this happen for the greater good of humanity.
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