The first year in office of the president of Brazil is related to politics and the environment

The crisis of Brazil: what will we learn from the next government? CBERS-6, a Brazilian laboratory for maximum biosecurity, research station, and Sirius

“I’d say we’re living in times of careful hope,” says Gonçalves. There are a lot of interests that make it difficult for the scenario to improve, so I believe things will get better. “We will feel the ripple effects of the last government for a long time.”

Many science-policy experts acknowledge that higher-education and science funding will never be adequate. “State funds will always be insufficient, but when government and civil society are aligned in their values and shared perception of reality, negotiation is possible. It was really hard to negotiate with an anti-science and anti-education government,” says Ribeiro.

No political guarantees are made for the continued recovery of budgets. In mid-October, the Lula administration blocked 116 million reais from the 2023 CAPES budget. The 3.8 billion reais was slashed from the government’s budget in an attempt to keep public expenditure within limits.

The brain drain in Brazil will be essential to power these and other projects. A programme known as Knowledge Brazil, scheduled to start at the end of this year, promises to create grants for researchers who want to return to Brazil, alongside subsidies to help Brazilian companies hire returning researchers. We want to create networks with Brazilian researchers abroad so that we can treat them as national assets. The challenge is to find the exact number of Brazilian researchers abroad.

CBERS-6, a satellite being developed by INPE and the China Academy of Space Technology in Beijing, is another project in the works. The novelty is that it will add radar detection to its monitoring capacity which will allow for a much more precise monitoring of tree removal in the Amazon.

A key priority of Lula’s government, alongside restoring confidence in science and higher education, is an urgent need to shore up funding for advanced infrastructure projects, including a multipurpose reactor to provide radioisotopes for health research across the country, says Fernandes. The Latin America’s first maximum-biosecurity laboratory is under construction. It will be connected to a source of light at the Brazilian Center for Research in Energy and Materials, less than 100 kilometres from So Paulo. The FNDCT will invest one billion reais in the project over the next couple of years. An expansion to the Sirius laboratory, at the same campus, is also in the plans. The idea is to add 10 research stations to the 14 that are currently in use.

The Secretary of Higher Education said in the year 2023 that the top priority was to give vulnerable students the chance to stay in school in a country with a third of the population living in poverty. “Even before the pandemic, there were fewer enrolments and higher drop-out rates in courses across the country. This is worrisome because higher education is the most important component for social mobility in Brazil,” she says. The Institute of Applied Economic Research, which is in Brazil’s Ministry of Economy, says that people who did not go to university earn four times more than people with a higher education.

After a difficult period following Galvão’s dismissal, INPE is slowly getting its house in order, says Leonel Perondi, a senior researcher in engineering and space technology at the institute. Carlos Nobre, president of the Brazilian Panel for Climate Change and a former INPE researcher, says, “Although the institute’s deforestation monitoring systems regained importance this year, it is still in dire straits,” pointing to areas such as weather forecast and climate modelling, which are still not as cutting-edge as they once were, mostly owing to the lack of a powerful supercomputer.

For example, the last time INPE had more recruits than departures was in 2014, when it hired 68 people. Since then, it has lost almost one-quarter of its workforce, shrinking from 978 in 2014 to 707 in 2022 (see ‘Steady decline’). The institute has 833 civil servants, but the number is anticipated to increase because of the 800 positions that have recently been created in public research institutions.

The third action is an effort to fill positions in public research institutions that had often been left empty when researchers retired and were not replaced. We had a public tender that had over 800 positions. The lack of personnel was killing our research units by starvation,” Fernandes says.

The CNPq is the main source of salary for many Brazilian researchers and the education ministry distributes CAPES grants. As with the CNPq, CAPES saw a rise in grant values.

The FNDCT has been managed by the science ministry and is focused on funding science and technology projects in Brazil. About 12 billion reais from the fund is available for use in 2024. Half of this will be used for refundable operations, in which industrialists reimburse the fund, and the other half will be used for straightforward investment in science and technology. The academic community is in favor of increasing the non-refundable portion.

Gonçalves predicts that the government will find it hard to meet academics’ expectations. “Destruction is much more efficient and faster than construction,” he says. Renato Janine Ribeiro, president of the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science (SBPC), who is based in São Paulo, says that areas such as science, health, education and the environment became even more vulnerable during Bolsonaro’s presidency than they were during the term of his predecessor, Michel Temer. In 2017, a group of 23 Nobel laureates sent Temer a letter expressing concern about the cuts in the funds for science and technology: the budget that year ended up being 44% lower than was originally approved by Congress, with a further cut predicted in 2018 in an attempt to reduce overall public expenditure (see ‘Ups and downs’).

Over the past decade, the budget for federal universities has nosedived. The budget for investment and maintenance for university professors in the country was down to about 7 billion reais, or US$ 1.44 billion, in the next four years, according to the Knowledge Observatory. The budget for 2024 is expected to be around 6.8 billion reais.

I had no idea if my wife or I would be back to Brazil in the foreseeable future. I considered applying for a permanent position in Michigan,” he says. While doing his visiting professorship, Del-Bem planned to halt his laboratory activity at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, where he’s worked as a professor since 2018, but continue to teach classes remotely and mentor his students back in Brazil. “I was quite worried that changes in the Brazilian academic system would bring it to a complete collapse. He feared that another four years of a Jair Bolsonaro government would mean that his profession would not exist in Brazil.

Del-Bem’s anxiety stemmed, he says, from the damaging effects of several budget cuts and the hostile environment Bolsonaro’s government had created towards science. There was a feeling of persecution of scientific research, professors, and many of their colleagues.

Soon after he was elected in 2019, Bolsonaro accused scientists of distorting deforestation data and fired Ricardo Galvão, director of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), after he backed his agency’s findings that deforestation in the Amazon was increasing and clashed with the president publicly. The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation had two researchers with the National Order of Scientific Merit, Marcus Vincius Guimares de Lacerda and the former director of the HIV/AIDS department of Brazil. A booklet about sexually transmitted diseases was created by Benzaken and she was the one who led the first studies showing that the drug chloroquine did not work in the treatment of COVID-19. 21 scientists refused their honors because of the revocations.

Source: Why 2023 was a bittersweet year for Brazilian science

Lula da Silva: What have we learned in the first two years of the Lula government and when do we want to go back to the United States?

Del-Bem was a vocal opposer of the government on social media and faced online hate, including receiving a few threats from users using false profiles.

But just two months after Del-Bem and his wife arrived in the United States, Brazil elected to replace Bolsonaro with left-wing candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (widely known as Lula).

“I’ll never forget that day,” Del-Bem says. We started to plan on going back to Brazil immediately after the result, because we had popped champagne that had been in the fridge for months. “I felt we would be able to go back safely and move on with our lives.”

The atmosphere has changed significantly since the start of Lula’s presidential term, his third after his second term ended in 2010. But challenges remain, according to Del-Bem. The air conditioning is not turned on in my lab because my department does not have the funds to fix it. Practical classes are difficult because most of the microscopes are broken or need maintenance,” he says. “There are clear signs of hope that we did not have under Bolsonaro, but we have not seen many structural changes in this first year of the Lula government,” he adds.

Other Scientists say that rooms in universities have fallen into disrepair and that the prices for equipment are too high due to currency exchange rates.

However, substantial change will demand a lot more work, Gonçalves says. Grant funding for individual researchers doesn’t pay for the needed repairs to university buildings. “At our department, we have a room that has been taken over by mould and is currently not in use,” he says. I hope we can restore it in time for the next semester.

Reducing Deforestation and Energy in the Legal Amazon: A State-Controlled Action Plan for the 2030 Brazilian Economy and Growth Acceleration

The drivers of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon are not the same in 2029 as they were in 15 2003, and the country has a new Action Plan to Combat Deforestation in the Legal Amazon that will be confronted by challenges that did not exist two decades ago.

That’s crucial for long-term effects. She says if there is no economic alternative, results won’t be sustainable and law enforcement will be flawed. “Those who are involved in deforestation today must be able to do a fair transition to a viable, forest-preserving economy.”

“Organized crime and drug trafficking have exploded in the Amazon, but even so we are seeing deforestation reduction rates comparable to 2005,” Nobre says, when these crimes were not so flagrant. The new version of thePPC is said to have an emphasis on sustainable development in the Amazon.

The company appealed, and now the licence depends on an assessment of the effect traffic to and from an oil platform will have on nearby communities, made by the National Indigenous Peoples Foundation. The granting of an environmental licence for Petrobras to explore deep waters near Rio Grande do Norte state created hopes that the same could happen at the mouth of the Amazon. In September, the minister of mines and energy asked for more speed.

Natural-gas imports from Brazil fell by almost half in the year 2022, said the National Agency for Petroleum, Natural Gas and Bio fuels. The rise in oil imports was the highest since 2015.

In August, Brazil’s finance ministry launched an ecological transformation plan as part of the country’s growth acceleration programme, known as PAC — a set of policies to boost private and public investment in infrastructure to create jobs and reduce regional inequalities. The plan focuses on green social and economic development, and includes a green energy transition as one of its key planks. Even though it has an energy component, the plan falls short of a proper energy-transition policy, says Suely Arajo, senior public-policy specialist at the Climate Observatory.

Pedro Jacobi, an environmental-governance researcher at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, says that Lula has been forced to accept these changes. Rather than risking conflict in Congress, Jacobi says, Lula prefers to focus on key agendas, such as the economy and social programmes. The Liberal Party made up 96 of the 513 members of the lower house of congress.

Congress approved a law in June which could weaken protections for Indigenous and the environment. The legislation took responsibility for rural land registry and wastewater management away from the environment ministry, handing the two areas to other ministries. The Indigenous Peoples ministry had its powers to demarcate Indigenous lands stripped by the law.

Source: Politics and the environment collide in Brazil: Lula’s first year back in office

The 2030 Goals of Brazil: Planing for a Record-High Carbon Footprint in the Biome of the Cerrado, as Confirmed by DETER

According to DETER, the part of the Cerrado covered by logging alerts is set to hit a record high in 2023 of about 7,600 square kilometres — an estimate that is roughly 1000 square kilometres more than in 2018, when INPE started recording such alerts for the biome. Such an increase shows the need for more-efficient and far-reaching policies to protect the Cerrado, Unterstell says.

The emission cuts proposed in 2016 were retained, but worked on with a higher estimate than in years past. The Bolsonao policy would have resulted in an increase in emissions. Now, with an updated pledge, the country is getting back on track on this front, she says.

In October, Brazil updated the climate-change commitments it had made to the United Nations. In 2016, Brazil had proposed reducing emissions by 37% by 2025 and by 43% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. Now, it proposes to cut emissions in 2025 and 2030 by 48% and 51%, respectively.

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