Amazon Deforestation — [Mrs Madeleine Moon in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:51 pm on 7th October 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mark Menzies Mark Menzies Conservative, Fylde 4:51 pm, 7th October 2019

Let me again point out the importance of the federal and state Governments and legislatures. There is huge sensitivity to the criticism directed at Brazil in recent months. There is a danger that that will shut off avenues of co-operation, dialogue and discussion, preventing some of the positive things that we all want to achieve. Particularly in rural areas, people want to be better off. They want better standards of education, better employment opportunities and better prospects for their children than they had. We must show them a way to achieve that without following a path of devastation and destruction. The trees can be cashed in once, but the other possibilities I mentioned can pay dividends in the longer term.

Another reason we should not go down the path of sanctions, or the threat of them, is that Brazil is a global superpower in its renewable energy potential, both solar and wind, thanks to its enormous coast and tremendous sunshine. UK companies are the biggest investors in solar generation in Brazil. The City of London, by providing access to green finance and green reinsurance markets, is fundamental to unlocking some of that sustainable, renewable power. Many of those schemes are micro schemes, which can unlock access to affordable, sustainable energy—a problem that has often plagued Brazil—for the very people we have talked about, who live away from the coast in isolated, poor communities.

However, those schemes can be unlocked only by global co-operation and the free flow of finance to ensure that there is somebody to help to finance them in the long term. Simply pulling up the drawbridge and saying, “No more co-operation; we’re withdrawing from trade agreements and trade discussions with you,” strengthens the hand of the people who want to build a wall around Brazil—those who say, “There they go again: the imperialists are threatening us. We shouldn’t listen to anything they’ve got to say. We do things our way”—and weakens the hand of those in Brazil who want co-operation and to follow a path of alternatives to deforestation.

As somebody who is passionate about Latin America—I have visited the Yungas in Bolivia, and I have visited Colombia five times in my trade envoy role—I know very well the economic power of these rainforests. This is not just about protecting rare species and defending an ecosystem; it is also about allowing people to earn a fantastic living while protecting precious and unique environments. If we get this right, we can do both.