Brazil front-runner proposals could lead deforestation to 'explode': NGOs

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of a tract of Amazon jungle recently cleared by loggers and farmers near the city of Novo Progresso, Brazil September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Nacho Doce//File Photo

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Proposals made by Brazil’s far-right presidential front-runner Jair Bolsonaro present a serious threat to the country’s environment that could lead deforestation “to explode,” a group of non-government organizations said on Friday.

More than 20 NGOs, including Greenpeace and WWF-Brasil, signed the open letter taking aim at several proposals, calling for Brazilians to take action to protect the environment as a runoff vote approaches on Oct. 28.

Among a long list of complaints, the NGOs criticized “the announcement of a possible exit of Brazil from the Paris Agreement.”

Bolsonaro has said he could take Brazil out of the Paris Agreement to combat climate change, following in the footsteps of U.S. President Donald Trump.

The NGO letter did not mention Bolsonaro by name.

Brazil is home to roughly 60 percent of the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest that is considered by many as nature’s best defense against global warming, with its trees absorbing huge amounts of carbon dioxide.

The letter also condemned plans to combine the environment and agriculture ministry, as suggested by Bolsonaro’s top agriculture adviser last week.

“The subordination of these functions to agriculture, in addition to demonstrating a lack of knowledge of the subject, would generate insurmountable conflicts of interest and jeopardize four decades of progress in protecting the environment,” the letter said.

Reporting by Jake Spring, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien