Wheeling and Dealing

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Eight countries that share the Amazon rainforest agreed on “principles” to protect the region – but failed to reach a concrete deal to end deforestation, the Voice of America reported Wednesday.

The “Belem Declaration” came during a summit of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) in the Brazilian city of Belem, the first gathering since 2009 for the 28-year-old group.

Following a two-day meeting, ACTO members pledged to cooperate in tackling illegal activities in the rainforest that are contributing to deforestation, and otherwise promote sustainable development.

The nations’ leaders also vowed to protect the rights of the Amazon’s Indigenous peoples and agreed to cooperate on water management, health, and common negotiating positions at climate summits, Reuters wrote.

But the declaration did not include Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s call to end illegal deforestation by 2030, nor an appeal by his Colombian counterpart, Gustavo Petro, to end all oil exploration in the Amazon.

Petro’s demand in particular put the Brazilian leader in a difficult position, as Brazil’s state-owned oil company has been trying to develop new oil drilling platforms at the mouth of the Amazon.

More than 10 percent of the Amazon rainforest has been lost in recent decades because of cattle ranching, mining, logging, and oil drilling.

The majority of the rainforest lies in Brazil: Known as the ‘Earth’s lungs,’ it is crucial for carbon absorption to combat the effects of climate change.

Scientists warned that a loss of up to 25 percent of the Amazon would be a “tipping point” that would transform it into a source of carbon emissions.

Observers noted that the summit also served as a practice run for the United Nations climate conference, COP 30, set to take place in Belem in 2025.

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