President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva positions himself as a climate advocate while grappling with environmentalists’ ire over Brazil’s surging oil production. Lula’s commitment to combat illegal deforestation in the Amazon clashes with Brazil’s controversial decision to join the OPEC+ group, earning the nation criticism and the “Fossil of the Day” award during the COP28 UN climate talks.
While celebrating a 50% reduction in Amazon deforestation in 2023, Lula’s government faces scrutiny for record-breaking oil production, reaching nearly 3.7 million barrels per day in November. Despite Lula’s push for climate leadership, plans to explore oil near the Amazon river mouth draw opposition, even from within his administration, exemplified by Environment Minister Marina Silva.
Oil, contributing to 13% of Brazil’s GDP, is a crucial economic driver, with the energy ministry aiming for 5.4 million barrels per day by 2029. International Energy Agency’s Fatih Birol applauds Brazil’s role as a reliable oil supplier, emphasizing its contribution to about 3% of global crude supply. Lula insists oil revenues support social programs and fund the transition to clean energy, a stance contested by critics who argue it ignores the severity of the climate crisis.
With oil and oil derivatives sales reaching $42.5 billion last year, Brazil’s reliance on oil exports for revenue clashes with environmentalists like Greenpeace Brasil’s Enrico Marone, who contends that existing oil fields suffice for the nation’s energy transition. Brazil’s current renewable energy share of 47% outpaces the world average of 15%, adding complexity to the debate surrounding Lula’s dual role as a climate advocate and oil champion.