AllRise, an environmental litigation group, submitted a petition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) calling for Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro to be held criminally accountable for his actions in the Amazon (AP News). The 248-page petition argues the “mass deforestation” occurring in the Amazon under his administration is harming local communities, leading to loss of life, and is detrimental to the regional and global communities. Climate science shows a long future of devastation, fatalities, and insecurity due to the accelerated rate of deforestation and its links to climate change and extreme weather events (The Guardian). Estimates show emissions resulting from the actions of Bolsonaro and his administration will cause over 180,000 global deaths through 2100.  

Since Bolsonaro took office in early 2019, he has encouraged development in the Amazon, calling for more farming and mining, weakened environmental authorities, and supported measures to relax land protections. These actions have led to increased illegal logging and invasion of protected lands (Reuters). Prior to this petition, three other petitions were submitted to the ICC in response to his attack on the Amazon and indigenous communities. 

Bolsonaro’s administration pointed to a reduction in deforestation in August 2021 from August 2020 as evidence that Brazil is working toward mitigating climate change. However, critics argue that this one-month comparison does not capture the full picture; deforestation has been rising since he entered office in 2019, and the rate of deforestation is the highest it has been since 2008 (Mongabay). However, the environment minister noted Brazil wants to use COP26 to demonstrate Brazil will be part of the solution to climate change and is committed to reducing emissions.