Joe Biden would label countries like Brazil as ‘climate outlaws’ for failing to address ‘climate change’


How Joe Biden could make Brazil his first “climate outlaw”
Joe Biden plans to label countries as “climate outlaws” for failing to address climate change. Brazil might be at the top of his list.

By Jariel Arvin

President-elect Joe Biden has promised to recommit the US to the Paris climate agreement and leverage the international community to urge reluctant countries to get on board with the target of keeping global average temperatures from rising above 2°C.

As part of this effort, as outlined in Biden’s ambitious climate plan, his administration plans to “Name and shame global climate outlaws” in a new “Global Climate Change Report,” in order “to hold countries to account for meeting, or failing to meet, their Paris commitments and for other steps that promote or undermine global climate solutions.”

And during the first 2020 presidential debate, Biden gave an indication of one of the first countries to potentially be labeled an “outlaw”: Brazil.

Biden said he would rally countries to come up with $20 billion to give to Brazil to protect the Amazon. He also stressed there would be serious consequences if Brazil didn’t stop its policies of deforestation.

For the past two years, Brazil has experienced record-setting wildfires which have been exacerbated by climate change and poor forest management. As Vox’s Lili Pike wrote in September, “As with 2019, researchers have linked this year’s fires [in Brazil] to massive illegal deforestation. Under Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration, ranchers, farmers, and miners have been given much freer rein to clear the rich rainforest for commercial activity, and setting fires is a cheap way to do that.”

Bolsonaro’s legacy of climate change denial and his lax attitude toward the clearing of the Amazon helped align him with Trump. But under a Biden administration, disregard for the Amazon and disbelief in global warming may not be as easy to get away with.

“There are people in the Democratic Party that would like to go after Bolsonaro and be very tough with him on this issue, and join forces with the Europeans to apply significant pressure,” Mike Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a foreign policy think tank, told Reuters in October.

With Trump gone and most countries in the world working toward achieving the 2-degree goal of the Paris agreement, Bolsonaro could find himself and his government subjected to increased global pressure and shaming, led by the Biden administration.