What is your job?
Federal congressman representing the state of Amazonas.
How are you helping cool the planet through your work?
I recently presented a bill to Brazil’s Congress to formalize regulation of Brazil’s voluntary cap-and-trade carbon market. It would operate through a framework that obliges large companies to comply. As Brazil is a world leader in biodiversity with the greatest preserved contiguous primary forest, it is our burden and responsibility to incentivize and push this carbon markets tool. By using institutional instruments and the right incentives to avoid the Amazon’s degradation and deforestation, helped by widespread support for its protection which grows annually, we can make a big impact.
Experts estimate that Brazil can offset around 1 billion tons of carbon by the end of the decade, generating credits, certificates, and other resources valued at roughly R$100 billion (~US$20 billion). For farmers who are required by law to protect a portion of their land, around 500 million tons of carbon could be captured, generating around US$5 billion for them. This legislation will also allow Amazonas state and its people to monetize its standing forest and reduce poverty among its indigenous peoples, since there would be mechanisms that require earnings be invested in communities generating carbon credits.
What most surprised you about your job?
The federal government is not interested in reducing deforestation and gas emissions, even though my proposed legislation has broad support from industry and agribusiness, from political leaders in Congress, and from governors of many subnational states. The government has not grasped the potential of the carbon market as a generator of wealth and support for our economy, or how this might help Brazil comply with its environmental agreements. We are giving up one of our largest and most relevant assets. I worry that other countries will impose strong tariff barriers in response, making the trade of Brazilian products difficult.
What can we do to get more young people into public service?
By emphasizing the critical role that governments play in developing the new economy — one that allows young people to overturn the norm and be disruptive. By connecting sustainable thinking and innovation with traditional knowledge to develop new pharmaceutical products. Political training programs can also bring young talented people to the public sphere. Unfortunately, today there is too much polarization.