For Immediate Release

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Lindsay Meiman, lindsay@350.org

As Amazon burns, Brazilians Disrupt Minister of the Environment Presentation Demanding Climate Action

Salvador, Brazil - On Wednesday, August 21, citizens disrupted the Brazilian Environment Minister to highlight the lack of action on fossil fuels and forest protection in addressing the climate crisis.

As the news of the Amazon burning at an unprecedented pace in Brazil continues, citizens disrupted the responsible Minister at a panel of the Latin American and Caribbean Climate Change Week event.

Holding banners and chanting phrases such as “We want our forests alive," the activists highlighted the failed environment and climate policies of the current government during the speech of the Minister of the Environment of Brazil, Ricardo Salles. 

350’s campaigner, Suelita Rocker, one of the protesters, said “The recent data about fires in the Amazon is showing that the current environmental policies are leading us to even more carbon emissions. Scientists, Indigenous Peoples, students and other groups are clearly saying that they want a quick and thorough transition to clean energy, stronger measures for forest conservation and real participation of the communities in the government decisions."

Holding posters with the messages “Yes to life” and “No more dismantling of the environmental policies”, Rocker sat quietly on a chair in the middle of the front row and held her signs in a place where the minister could see, refusing to stand as is the normal protocol in Brazil. A considerable part of the audience also booed Salles.

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Some messages on the signs were related to forest conservation, in the context of a sharp increase in the deforestation and burning rates in the Amazon. Other banners had slogans pointing to the recent attempts by the government of reduction of civil society participation in the decisions related to the environment.

In a panel shortly after the protests, a representative of the Brazilian NGO Engajamundo, which organizes mobilizations across the country, spoke about the urgency of solutions for the climate crisis and the lack of space for youth in decision-making processes. She also criticized the insufficient representation of indigenous people, black communities and women in discussions like the Latin America Climate Week itself.

“Governments have to ensure the participation of the most vulnerable people in the dialogues and decisions about the climate crisis. In this sense, it is essential that all sectors of society invest in projects that make climate education a reality” said Kinda VanGastel, from Engajamundo.

This comes as momentum picks up to ban fracking in Brazil, where such legislation is already moving through multiple states, and just one month before millions of people around the world gear up for the September 20-27 Global Climate Strikes and week of action.

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350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. But solutions exist. All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350. This movement is massive, it is diverse, and it is visionary. We are activists, scholars, and scientists. We are leaders in our businesses, our churches, our governments, and our schools. We are clean energy advocates, forward-thinking politicians, and fearless revolutionaries. And we are united around the world, driven to make our planet livable for all who come after us.

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