BRASILIA (Reuters) - A majority of Brazilian Catholics believe global warming is a scientific fact and preservation of the Amazon rainforest is vital to reduce the effects of climate change, contrary to the view of Brazil’s right-wing government, a poll showed on Monday.
The survey, published as Pope Francis opened the Amazon Synod at the Vatican, found that 7 in 10 Catholics in Brazil believe that preserving the Amazon is “very important” and 85% view attacking the Amazon forest as a sin.
The “Catholics and the Amazon” poll was done by the Ideia Big Data Institute and commissioned by the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) and the Climate and Society Institute (iCS). It surveyed 1,502 Catholics across Brazil between June 1-13 and has a margin of error of 3%.
For 85% of Brazilian Catholics, the Amazon is vital to mitigate climate change and 83% recognize that global warming is a fact supported by scientific research.
Three out of four Catholics in Brazil oppose ending environmental fines for illegal deforestation, the poll said, and 73% disagree with the weakening of the environmental protection agency Ibama, which has lost resources and enforcement authority under President Jair Bolsonaro.
There was no immediate comment about the survey from Bolsonaro’s government.
A majority of those surveyed, 63%, do not agree with the government’s denial of the accuracy of deforestation data produced by Brazil’s space research institute INPE, whose director was fired by Bolsonaro.
Seven out of 10 Brazilian Catholics are against the reduction of the indigenous reservations where the original inhabitants of the Amazon live and protect the forests.
Francis told the assembly of bishops discussing the Amazon region of South America that modern society should not try to impose its rules on indigenous people but respect their culture and let them chart their own future.
The three-week gathering, or synod, will discuss spreading the faith in the Amazon, a greater role for women, environmental protection, climate change, deforestation, indigenous people and their right to keep their land and traditions.
It is taking place at a time when the Amazon is in the world spotlight due to the devastating fires in Brazil. Francis said at the ceremonial opening Mass on Sunday the fires were intentionally lit by special interest groups.
Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Paul Tait