How do you react to the latest study on carbon emissions from the Amazon?
Nicolas Hulot: What is happening risks jeopardizing our chances of winning the climate battle for good. Because, to win it, there are two levers: reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and creating an alliance with the ecosystems that store greenhouse gases. Instead of reducing them, they should be increased. And what do we do? Exactly the reverse. Carbon sinks are transformed into carbon sources. This reversal is the cynical, pathetic and criminal demonstration of what not to do.
Should we only blame the President of Brazil, whose policies have led to a marked acceleration in deforestation?
N. H. : There will always be Machiavellian men. But what provokes my indignation is not so much what Jair Bolsonaro lets do, as the paucity of diplomatic reactions. Faced with a programmed crime against humanity of tomorrow, a characterized ecocide, the UN Security Council should meet. Jair Bolsonaro has grazed global commons and thus risks jeopardizing our chances of winning the climate battle. The European Union must react without delay.
N. H. : In three ways: by taking trade sanctions against Brazil by targeting products resulting from deforestation, such as soybeans or beef; by ending its draft trade agreement with Mercosur, which plans to increase beef imports into Europe by 99,000 tonnes per year; and finally, by adopting a European regulation on “mirror measures”, requiring the countries with which we do business to meet the criteria that we impose on ourselves. The EU is the world’s leading economic market, it can impose its rules, and trade policy can finally become a lever for change.
You have just spoken to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in a gallery.
N. H. : Yes, because we need consistency. We cannot open our doors to foodstuffs that do not respect the climate commitments of States, in particular the Paris Agreement. It is all the more absurd that we are asking our farmers to make considerable efforts for ecological transition, while putting them in situations of distortion of competition.
Is France up to the challenges?
N. H. : During the G7 in Biarritz, I was delighted with the firmness of Emmanuel Macron towards Jair Bolsonaro, during the fires in the Amazon. But we would have to go to the end of the process, by refusing the EU-Mercosur agreement. There should even be a national union of the political class, because what is at stake with the climate crisis is all we care about.
In this dark context, where do you find some hope?
N. H. : In the mobilization of youth. They tell us “act big, change your model in solidarity, we can’t wait any longer”! The presidential election is in a year: can we compete in creativity and intelligence? In view of this deadline, the “Pact of the power to live” (2) will put on the table a successful project for ecological transition and social justice.