Oligarchs Rattled by Climate Crisis?

August 23, 2019

New York Times:

RIO DE JANEIRO — As an ecological disaster in the Amazon escalated into a global political crisis, Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, took the rare step on Friday of mobilizing the armed forces to help contain blazes of a scale not seen in nearly a decade.
The sudden reversal, after days of dismissing growing concern over hundreds of fires raging across the Amazon, came as international outrage grew over the rising deforestation in the world’s largest tropical rain forest. European leaders threatened to cancel a major trade deal, protesters staged demonstrations outside Brazilian embassies and calls for a boycott of Brazilian products snowballed on social media.
As a chorus of condemnation intensified, Brazil braced for the prospect of punitive measures that could severely damage an economy that is already sputtering after a brutal recession and the country’s far-right populist president faced a withering reckoning.
On Friday, he said that he was planning to send the military to enforce environmental laws and to help contain the fires starting Saturday.

Wall Street Journal:

MOSCOW—A double blow of floods and wildfires in Russia this summer is injecting fresh urgency into rethinking the country’s usually skeptical stance toward the dangers posed by climate change.
Smoke from massive wildfires raging across an area the size of Belgium has engulfed hundreds of villages in Siberia—and spread as far as Seattle and Vancouver. Floods in the same region took 25 lives and displaced more than 30,000 people. Russian scientists say climate change was a major factor in both disasters.
President Vladimir Putin warns that Russia is being hit hard, with temperatures in the country rising 2½ times faster than the global average. His government recently decided to ratify the 2015 Paris climate agreement and introduced proposals for a law capping industrial emissions.

In Paris on Monday, Mr. Putin discussed climate change with French President Emmanuel Macron, saying Moscow is adopting programs and allocating major resources in combating it.
“We take this matter very seriously,” Mr. Putin said. “We have to coordinate our efforts. We are prepared for this joint work.” 
It’s a break from the past. Mr. Putin had long been ambiguous about the need for stronger climate-control measures. Russia is the world’s largest exporter of oil and gas combined, which is the heart of its economy. Mr. Putin previously described climate change as a part of a natural cycle that could benefit Russians. The country is expected to see better shipping access through the Arctic Sea and more opportunities for mining and drilling. Mr. Putin once joked in 2016 that people would save money on fur coats.
But Alexey Kokorin, head of the climate change program at the Russian branch of the environmental organization World Wide Fund for Nature, said the government’s approach has changed.

Times again:

“Whatever is within our power we will do,” he told reporters. “The problem is resources.”
Mr. Bolsonaro did not indicate what resources the military would bring to bear, but he was scheduled to give a televised address Friday evening to describe the government’s response plan.
In a televised address Friday night, Mr. Bolsonaro said the government would take a “zero tolerance” approach to environmental crimes. But he also said Brazilians in living in the states that encompass the Amazon must be provided with broader opportunities to make a decent living.
“I have a profound love and respect for the Amazon,” Mr. Bolsonaro said in a rare scripted message. “Protecting the rain forest is our duty.”
He provided no details about what assets the military would bring to bear in areas where fires are spreading.
It was unlikely that Mr. Bolsonaro’s plan could address the underlying crisis without a fundamental shift in his environmental policies, which have emboldened miners, loggers and farmers to strip and burn protected areas with a sense of impunity.

WSJ again:

“There’s a shift in mentality,” he said. “There’s better understanding of the necessity of adaptation, both to negative climate events, such as this year’s fires and floods, and to the [global trend toward a] new lower-carbon economy.”

The proposal to cap emissions—which would be the first such law in Russia—follows similar measures introduced in the European Union and Australia. If enacted, it would take effect in 2022 and penalize companies that exceed the limits. 
Industrial groups say the legislation would hurt their businesses. Alexander Shokhin, head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, warned in July that companies will have to account for the proposed law in their spending plans, slowing investment. Consumers, too, could feel the pain if the law raises energy prices, industrialists say.
Mr. Putin has urged Russian businesses not to oppose the measure, saying Russia could fall behind other countries in adapting to the threat posed by climate change.

Associated Press:

PORT VELHO, Brazil (AP) — Under international pressure to contain fires sweeping parts of Brazil’s Amazon, President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday authorized use of the military to battle the huge blazes while thousands took to the streets to protest his environmental policies.
Brazilian forces will deploy starting Saturday to border areas, indigenous territories and other affected regions in the Amazon to assist in putting out fires for a month, according to a presidential decree authorizing use of the army.
The military will “act strongly” to control the wildfires, Bolsonaro promised as he signed the decree.
The armed forces will collaborate with public security and environmental protection agencies, the decree says.
“The protection of the forest is our duty,” the president said. “We are aware of that and will act to combat deforestation and criminal activities that put people at risk in the Amazon. We are a government of zero tolerance for crime, and in the environmental field it will not be different.”
Bolsonaro has previously described rainforest protections as an obstacle to Brazil’s economic development, sparring with critics who note that the Amazon produces vast amounts of oxygen and is considered crucial for efforts to contain climate change.
As the president spoke, thousands of Brazilians demonstrated in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the capital of Brasilia demanding the government announce concrete actions to curb the fires. People also banged pots from their homes, a traditional mode of protest in South America.
An Associated Press journalist who traveled to the Amazon region Friday saw many already deforested areas that had been burned.
Charred trees and fallen branches were seen around Porto Velho, the capital of Rondonia state, which borders Bolivia. In some instances, the burned fields were adjacent to intact livestock ranches and other farms, suggesting the fires had been managed as part of a land-clearing policy.

16 Responses to “Oligarchs Rattled by Climate Crisis?”

  1. Keith Omelvena Says:

    Does that mean petrostate Russia will scale back it’s FF industry? No? Thought not. How could Russia afford it’s bloated military and tithes to the oligarchy, when the only export it has of value is hydrocarbons?

  2. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    I know we’re supposed to speak positively about there still being time to fend off the worst of GW and avoid the tipping points, but I think that they’re still just talking about locking the barn door after the horse bolted and lived a long life before dying of old age.

  3. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    Only seeing stats starting in the 21st century. Am wondering, based on ‘logic’ and some Amazon experience, if there were ANY fires pre-deforestation?

  4. J4Zonian Says:

    Throwing untrained people into a forest as firefighters means poor strategy, skills, equipment, and coordination, and less containment with more deaths and injuries.

    Science denial and the misallocation of funds to personal and corporate wealth have caused the world to be unprepared for such disasters. All the reports I’ve read so far have focused on the fire and smoke itself, which is normal, but we also need to improve media to be able and willing to follow up on such stories by situating the events in an accurate, comprehensive narrative to give them meaning. That means ditching capitalism as the motivating force behind not just media, but government, the production of food and other necessities and the focus of society. To do that we need to address the psychological roots of capitalism and first acknowledge, then begin to heal them.

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