Brazil is an important country in the global design of the Green Economy due to its vast territory and sociobiodiversity. Moreover, Brazil has held a historically subordinate position in North-South relations but more recently a sub-imperialist role via BRICS resulting in a place for testing and experiments in the carbon and biodiversity markets.* Where green capitalism develops new strategies, markets and territorial accumulation prepare the frontiers for the economic expansion model.
Therefore, it is no coincidence that Brazil houses a majority of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation+ (REDD+) and Payments for Environmental Services (PES) projects on the planet. According to the Ministry of Science and Technology, by 2012, 207 CDM projects, a multitude of REDD+ and PES projects have been denounced by the Carta de Belém.**
In Espírito Santo, Petrobrás, Chevron, Shell, ExxonMobil, Statoil and dozens of other oil companies are exploring, extracting, and transporting large reserves of pre-salt, offshore oil and gas located 2000 meters under the Atlantic ocean. Drilling however can be at depths as much as five thousand meters below sea level. In the same region, monoculture of fast-growing eucalyptus trees grown by pulp and paper companies, Fibria-Aracruz Cellulose and Suzano Cellulose, continue to expand.
The oil boom fuels the expansion of extractive and other existing industrial supply chains resulting in more platforms, pipelines and ships for steelmakers and shipyards. And more stone, iron, natural resources, and mining companies. Downstream, more fertilizers for monoculture eucalyptus and sugarcane, and more transport. The oil, mining, steel, pesticides, eucalyptus and sugarcane, form a vicious circle of social and environmental injustice affecting numerous territories, particularly the “sacrifice zones” of the expansion model: Indigenous, Quilombolas, campesinas and fishing regions.
In the north of the Espírito Santo in the Community of Palhal, Municipality of Linhares, 11 families were evicted from their land for the installation of UFN 4, Unit Fertilizer Nitrogen, a work entered in the Growth Acceleration Plan (PAC). According to Elias, a local leader from the Movimento dos Pequenos Agricultores (Movement of Small Farmers (MPA) and La Via Campesina:
“Instead of producing more pesticides for monocultures of sugarcane and eucalyptus, here we could have a small agribusiness producing dairy products, since the tradition of the families here are dairy cattle. People could participate actively, with income distribution and land, preserving the environment and local culture. The importance of agroecology here would prevent the eviction of the people.”
It is not by chance that at the UNFCCC COP in 2009, Lula announced an emissions reduction target of 38.9% in Brazil. The proposal included the reduction of 80% deforestation in the Amazon and 40% in the Cerrado. Using the argument of defending the forests, he sought resources from the carbon markets and agro-forestry. In order to preserve the expansion model, Lula offered in the same package the remaining native forests and sugar cane and fast-growing tree monoculture from “sacrifice zones” and territories in order to offset the rapid global petroleum expansion.
In this sense the BNDES, the principle state development bank, perceived a new niche market, having established in 2012 in the São Paulo Stock Exchange (BOVESPA) the Carbon Efficient Index. In 2013 the construction of the environment asset market began to include: water, carbon and biodiversity. The pre-salt of the Atlantic Coast is in the same “green” Brazilian national market as REDD+ from Acre and the Amazon.
In Brazil the equation looks like this: + oil = + green economy. Nothing escapes the siege and the pace of expansion of the productivist and consumerist “green” petroleum model. Territories and traditional knowledges, forestry and eco-forestry systems managed by Indigenous Peoples, campesinos and Quilombolas, the springs and streams, the riparian forests and conservation areas are all threatened, looted and devastated by the carbon market, by the word “sustainable” and made possible through the CDM, REDD+, biodiversity offsets and PES. Though this destruction is painted with a discourse of “Green Economy” which was crafted with perfect timing for the Rio+20 in 2012.
Dilma Rousseff and Governor Renato Casagrande promise to accelerate the monoculture model, industry and capixaba development, planned in the project “Espírito Santo 2025″, also sponsored by Petrobras and Fibria-Aracruz Cellulose. The state plan and large corporations focus on easing the Forest Code and environmental laws, in a not always explicit favoring of agribusiness and oil exploration. In turn, creating tensions in social and environmental conflicts, rather than rights while impeding food security and climate justice for family farmers, traditional peoples and campesinas, fishers and inhabitants in areas of the operations related to the cellulose and oil industrial complexes.
In terms of civil society, resistance to “big projects” face environmental racism, well-known marginalization and criminalization, and secondly, a new compensation (“offsets”) logic that finances the impacts either through corporate policies of so-called social responsibility, or through topical actions and welfare state PT, which pass through market equivalences like carbon and other commodified nature “services”. In President Dilma’s Brazil, offsets cease to be an infringement of rights, instead they become their own rights. A complete reversal of logic.
In 2013, after 10 years of Lula and Dilma PT governments, Brazilian society has returned to mobilize around questioning the state and its development policies. In Espírito Santo, the campesina resistance is strengthened by agroecology that articulates the defense of traditional territories, and agrarian reform with food security. At sea and along the Atlantic Coast, strong fishing communities that require the sea for survival are threatened by the expansion of oil. A Economia Verde não passará! (The Green Economy will not prevail!)