Can Lula slam the brakes on Brazil’s rampant deforestation? It will be harder this time. A coalition of environmental organizations have launched a court case to challenge the president’s decision to halt the country’s deforestation. The suit seeks to overturn the National Environmental Law (NEL), which enshrines Brazil’s environmental protection policy and has allowed the country’s president to issue decrees suspending law.
The Brazilian people have long been critical of deforestation as a source of pollution. But now, the environmental degradation of Amazonia is at the heart of the country’s international debate regarding global warming.
While the Amazon has been an environmental hot-spot in the 20th century, it has become a source of conflict. Brazil’s vast forest has been largely the domain of the federal government, which is responsible for allocating Amazon Forest for forestry and mining.
The forest’s destruction has been a particular point of conflict because of Brazil’s recent rise in environmental protection. On one hand, environmental groups have been protesting against government decisions to open up the Amazon rain forest for mining, and logging. On the other hand, they are frustrated because the Brazilian government has been less than proactive in addressing the issue.
This growing tension between the government and the environment advocates is currently playing out in the Brazilian environmental courts, where a coalition of environmental organizations have launched a suit against President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to overturn the country’s environmental law.
These organizations, led by the Brazilian Center for Rights and Redress (CREDO), have charged the president with violating two fundamental rights set out in the Brazilian constitution. Specifically, they argue that the NEL violates Brazil’s democratic principles and the rights to life, liberty and property established in the Brazilian constitution.
“It was in the public interest of the Brazilian society that the environmental protection law has its limits given the current conditions of development in the country,” says Ricardo Moraes, an environmentalist from CREDO who has been working on the case.
“It was also in the interest of the Brazilian state to avoid the environmental destruction of the Amazon that causes the loss of jobs and incomes.”
In order for the NEL to be successfully challenged, plaintiffs will have to prove that the law is unconstitutional.
The case is set to take place in the federal court, where the judge presiding over the case is expected to make a decision on 15 June.