As Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is elected Brazil’s president, IEMA’s Public Affairs Officer, Asim Ali, looks at the implications of this for tackling climate change.


As representatives from various nations congregate in Egypt for COP 27 to take steps toward meeting the global climate goals set forth in the Paris Agreement, many eyes were also on Sunday’s presidential election in Brazil as Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, better known as Lula, and President Jair Bolsonaro took to the polls.

Lifting Brazil out of an economic crisis that has put millions of people in poverty was one of several problems that Brazilians were most concerned with. Voters, however, placed the environment and climate change high on their priority lists too.

Lula and Bolsonaro engaged in a nail-biting election. With little more than 50% of the vote, Lula was declared the winner. Lula has pledged to stop the deforestation of the Amazon while also working to raise millions of Brazilians out of poverty.

Climate scientists warn that if the Amazon deforestation continues at its current rate, a catastrophe is imminent. Ahead of COP 27 in Egypt, world leaders, environmentalists, and the general public who are frantically searching for good news on climate change were relieved by Lula's victory in Sunday's presidential election. Experts argue that the result is a historic turning point for the future of the rainforest.

The rainforest has a significant impact on climate change. The Amazon currently retains an estimated 123 billion tonnes of carbon that would otherwise be released into the environment. For many years, the Amazon rainforest has been acknowledged as a source of ecological benefits for both the rest of the globe and the indigenous tribes and towns.

Brazil is home to the greatest area of the Amazon, over 1.5 million square miles (60 percent of the Amazon), where global climate efforts and environmental rules were hampered under the previous Bolsonaro administration. Additionally, he presided over a sharp increase in deforestation throughout his presidency.

The Amazon rainforest's recent acceleration of deforestation has wiped out thousands of species of wildlife and plants, endangered the lives of indigenous people, and destroyed one of nature's most crucial mechanisms for storing carbon and averting climate disaster.

However, Lula's triumph in Sunday's presidential election represents a turning point in the Amazon’s history. He placed a high emphasis on the issue of deforestation and used his victory speech to lay down a marker by pledging to put a stop to deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

Lula, who has been president of Brazil twice, cites his accomplishments as evidence that this is feasible. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon decreased by more than 80% during his previous administration.

Ahead of COP 27, Lula has pledged to work with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia in an alliance of rainforest nations. Additionally he aims to organise a summit on forest protection with Amazonian neighbours.

In order to lift millions out of poverty in the wake of an economic crisis and the repercussions of COVID-19, Lula will have a full plate when he assumes office on January 1, 2023. Despite these problems, Lula gives the rest of the world optimism by promising to end Amazonian destruction.

As countries gather for COP 27, IEMA’s policy and engagement lead, Chloë Fiddy, has published a blog looking at the key themes and hot topics that will arise at the conference. You can read this here.

Photo of Asim Ali
Asim Ali

Public Affairs Officer

Asim joined IEMA in May 2022 as a Public Affairs Officer. Prior to joining IEMA, Asim worked in a variety of roles for three Members of Parliament and interned for the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. He also holds an MA in Human Rights, Globalisation & Justice