Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (R) inspects a guard of honor with Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) in 2023. (Ken Ishii / AFP / Getty Images)

Lula’s China Embrace Promises Environmental—and Moral—Pollution

May 10, 2023


Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva made environmental protection a central promise of his campaign for the presidency of Brazil. After his victory, Lula said “the world expects Brazil to once again become a leader in tackling the climate crisis and an example of a socially and environmentally responsible country.” At the November 2022 UN Climate Change Conference Lula declared, “Brazil is ready to join once again [the] effort to build a healthier planet.”

These lofty words cannot be squared with Lula’s wholesale embrace of the People’s Republic of China, which was on public display during his April visit to Beijing. With a huge delegation of Brazilian businessmen and politicians in tow, Lula sidestepped the fact that China is responsible for about 30 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and its CO2 emission per capita has been increasing for years. What’s more, by deepening ties with China, Lula is inviting even greater environmental destruction into his own country.

For Brazilians, China’s disrespect for environmental protection is more than an abstract global problem—it’s degrading their air, water, and forests.

Aaron Rhodes, Ph.D. is senior fellow at Common Sense Society, where Cheryl Yu is senior researcher.

Originally published in Newsweek.

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