Linkages at International, National and Local Levels
Edited by Frank Maes, An Cliquet, Willemien du Plessis and Heather McLeod-Kilmurray
Chapter 12: Climate change and biodiversity: The vulnerability of the Amazon rainforest in the face of increasing ethanol demand
The Amazon rainforest is considered part of the national patrimony of Brazil, and is therefore protected by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Brazil (CRFB). As a consequence, any activity to be developed in this biome must incorporate measures to ensure its preser- vation for present and future generations, in accordance with paragraph 4 of Article 225 of the Brazilian Constitution. In this context, and considering the increasing global demand for biofuels supposedly as a way of mitigating the effects of global warming, this study aims to draw attention to the potential damage resulting from the production of ethanol from sugarcane, a process still linked to monoculture and to sugarcane straw burning. When combined, these two factors lead undeniably to the degradation of ecosystems, habitat destruc- tion and, therefore, the loss of Amazonian biodiversity. This chapter will begin by analysing the climate change issue, its association with ethanol production and the ecological risks of the expansion of ethanol producers in the Amazon rainforest. Then some of the legal instruments designed to protect the Amazonian ecosystem will be analysed, giving special attention to the ecological zoning of sugar- cane, as well as the prohibition of the use of fire in forests and for other vegetation. Finally, we will look at some judicial decisions that demon- strate the growing environmental awareness of the Brazilian judiciary related to climate change and sugarcane burning, making specific points about the relation between the standstill principle1 and the duty to preserve the biological diversity that composes the Amazon biome.
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