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  • When the Portuguese arrived in Latin America about 500 years ago,

  • they obviously found this amazing tropical forest.

  • And among all this biodiversity that they had never seen before,

  • they found one species that caught their attention very quickly.

  • This species, when you cut the bark, you find a very dark red resin

  • that was very good to paint and dye fabric to make clothes.

  • The indigenous people called this species pau brasil,

  • and that's the reason why this land became "land of Brasil," and later on, Brazil.

  • That's the only country in the world that has the name of a tree.

  • So you can imagine that it's very cool to be a forester in Brazil,

  • among other reasons.

  • Forest products are all around us.

  • Apart from all those products,

  • the forest is very important for climate regulation.

  • In Brazil, almost 70 percent of the evaporation that makes rain

  • actually comes from the forest.

  • Just the Amazon pumps to the atmosphere 20 billion tons of water every day.

  • This is more than what the Amazon River, which is the largest river in the world,

  • puts in the sea per day, which is 17 billion tons.

  • If we had to boil water to get the same effect as evapotranspiration,

  • we would need six months of the entire power generation capacity of the world.

  • So it's a hell of a service for all of us.

  • We have in the world about four billion hectares of forests.

  • This is more or less China, U.S., Canada and Brazil all together,

  • in terms of size, to have an idea.

  • Three quarters of that is in the temperate zone,

  • and just one quarter is in the tropics,

  • but this one quarter, one billion hectares, holds most of the biodiversity,

  • and very importantly, 50 percent of the living biomass, the carbon.

  • Now, we used to have six billion hectares of forest --

  • 50 percent more than what we have -- 2,000 years ago.

  • We've actually lost two billion hectares in the last 2,000 years.

  • But in the last 100 years, we lost half of that.

  • That was when we shifted from deforestation of temperate forests

  • to deforestation of tropical forests.

  • So think of this: In 100 years,

  • we lost the same amount of forest in the tropics

  • that we lost in 2,000 years in temperate forests.

  • That's the speed of the destruction that we are having.

  • Now, Brazil is an important piece of this puzzle.

  • We have the second largest forest in the world, just after Russia.

  • It means 12 percent of all the world's forests are in Brazil,

  • most of that in the Amazon.

  • It's the largest piece of forest we have. It's a very big, large area.

  • You can see that you could fit many of the European countries there.

  • We still have 80 percent of the forest cover.

  • That's the good news.

  • But we lost 15 percent in just 30 years.

  • So if you go with that speed,

  • very soon, we will loose this powerful pump that we have in the Amazon

  • that regulates our climate.

  • Deforestation was growing fast and accelerating

  • at the end of the '90s and the beginning of the 2000s.

  • (Chainsaw sound)

  • (Sound of falling tree)

  • Twenty-seven thousand square kilometers in one year.

  • This is 2.7 million hectares.

  • It's almost like half of Costa Rica every year.

  • So at this moment -- this is 2003, 2004 --

  • I happened to be coming to work in the government.

  • And together with other teammates in the National Forest Department,

  • we were assigned a task to join a team and find out the causes of deforestation,

  • and make a plan to combat that at a national level,

  • involving the local governments, the civil society,

  • business, local communities,

  • in an effort that could tackle those causes.

  • So we came up with this plan with 144 actions in different areas.

  • Now I will go through all of them one by one --

  • no, just giving some examples of what we had done in the next few years.

  • So the first thing, we set up a system with the national space agency

  • that could actually see where deforestation is happening,

  • almost in real time.

  • So now in Brazil, we have this system, DETER,

  • where every month, or every two months,

  • we get information on where deforestation is happening

  • so we can actually act when it's happening.

  • And all the information is fully transparent

  • so others can replicate that in independent systems.

  • This allows us, among other things,

  • to apprehend 1.4 million cubic meters of logs that were illegally taken.

  • Part of that we saw and sell, and all the revenue becomes a fund

  • that now funds conservation projects of local communities as an endowment fund.

  • This also allows us to make a big operation

  • to seize corruption and illegal activities

  • that ended up having 700 people in prison, including a lot of public servants.

  • Then we made the connection that areas that have been doing

  • illegal deforestation should not get any kind of credit or finance.

  • So we cut this through the bank system and then linked this to the end users.

  • So supermarkets, the slaughterhouses, and so on

  • that buy products from illegal clear-cut areas,

  • they also can be liable for the deforestation.

  • So making all these connections to help to push the problem down.

  • And also we work a lot on land tenure issues.

  • It's very important for conflicts.

  • Fifty million hectares of protected areas were created,

  • which is an area the size of Spain.

  • And of those, eight million were indigenous lands.

  • Now we start to see results.

  • So in the last 10 years,

  • deforestation came down in Brazil 75 percent.

  • (Applause)

  • So if we compare it with the average deforestation

  • that we had in the last decade,

  • we saved 8.7 million hectares, which is the size of Austria.

  • But more importantly, it avoided the emission

  • of three billion tons of CO2 in the atmosphere.

  • This is by far the largest contribution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,

  • until today, as a positive action.

  • One may think that when you do these kinds of actions

  • to decrease, to push down deforestation,

  • you will have an economic impact

  • because you will not have economic activity or something like that.

  • But it's interesting to know that it's quite the opposite.

  • In fact, in the period when we have the deepest decline of deforestation,

  • the economy grew, on average, double from the previous decade,

  • when deforestation was actually going up.

  • So it's a good lesson for us.

  • Maybe this is completely disconnected,

  • as we just learned by having deforestation come down.

  • Now this is all good news, and it's quite an achievement,

  • and we obviously should be very proud about that.

  • But it's not even close to sufficient.

  • In fact, if you think about the deforestation in the Amazon in 2013,

  • that was over half a million hectares,

  • which means that every minute,

  • an area the size of two soccer fields

  • is being cut in the Amazon last year, just last year.

  • If we sum up the deforestation we have in the other biomes in Brazil,

  • we are talking about still the largest deforestation rate in the world.

  • It's more or less like we are forest heroes,

  • but still deforestation champions.

  • So we can't be satisfied, not even close to satisfied.

  • So the next step, I think,

  • is to fight to have zero loss of forest cover in Brazil

  • and to have that as a goal for 2020.

  • That's our next step.

  • Now I've always been interested in the relationship

  • between climate change and forests.

  • First, because 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation,

  • so it's a big part of the problem.

  • But also, forests can be a big part of the solution

  • since that's the best way we know to sink, capture and store carbon.

  • Now, there is another relationship of climate and forests

  • that really stuck me in 2008 and made me change my career

  • from forests to working with climate change.

  • I went to visit Canada, in British Columbia,

  • together with the chiefs of the forest services of other countries

  • that we have a kind of alliance of them, like Canada, Russia, India, China, U.S.

  • And when we were there we learned about this pine beetle

  • that is literally eating the forests in Canada.

  • What we see here, those brown trees, these are really dead trees.

  • They are standing dead trees because of the larvae of the beetle.

  • What happens is that this beetle

  • is controlled by the cold weather in the winter.

  • For many years now, they don't have the sufficient cold weather

  • to actually control the population of this beetle.

  • And it became a disease that is really killing billions of trees.

  • So I came back with this notion that the forest is actually

  • one of the earliest and most affected victims of climate change.

  • So I was thinking,

  • if I succeed in working with all my colleagues

  • to actually help to stop deforestation,

  • maybe we will lose the battle later on for climate change

  • by floods, heat, fires and so on.

  • So I decided to leave the forest service

  • and start to work directly on climate change,

  • find a way to think and understand the challenge, and go from there.

  • Now, the challenge of climate change is pretty straightforward.

  • The goal is very clear.

  • We want to limit the increase of the average temperature

  • of the planet to two degrees.

  • There are several reasons for that.

  • I will not get into that now.

  • But in order to get to this limit of two degrees,

  • which is possible for us to survive,

  • the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,

  • defines that we have a budget of emissions of 1,000 billion tons of CO2

  • from now until the end of the century.

  • So if we divide this by the number of years,

  • what we have is an average budget of 11 billion tons of CO2 per year.

  • Now what is one ton of CO2?

  • It's more or less what one small car, running 20 kilometers a day,

  • will emit in one year.

  • Or it's one flight, one way,

  • from São Paulo to Johannesburg or to London, one way.

  • Two ways, two tons.

  • So 11 billion tons is twice that.

  • Now the emissions today are 50 billion tons, and it's growing.

  • It's growing and maybe it will be 61 by 2020.

  • Now we need to go down to 10 by 2050.

  • And while this happens,

  • the population will grow from seven to nine billion people,

  • the economy will grow from 60 trillion dollars in 2010

  • to 200 trillion dollars.

  • And so what we need to do is to be much more efficient

  • in a way that we can go from seven tons of carbon per capita

  • per person, per year, into something like one.

  • You have to choose. You take the airplane or you have a car.

  • So the question is, can we make it?

  • And that's the exactly the same question

  • I got when I was developing a plan to combat deforestation.

  • It's such a big problem, so complex. Can we really do it?

  • I think so. Think of this:

  • Deforestation means 60 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions

  • in Brazil in the last decade.

  • Now it's a little bit less than 30 percent.

  • In the world, 60 percent is energy.

  • So if we can tackle directly the energy,

  • the same way we could tackle deforestation,

  • maybe we can have a chance.

  • So there are five things that I think we should do.

  • First, we need to disconnect development from carbon emissions.

  • We don't need to clear-cut all the forests to actually get more jobs

  • and agriculture and have more economy.

  • That's what we proved when we decreased deforestation

  • and the economy continued to grow.

  • Same thing could happen in the energy sector.

  • Second, we have to move the incentives to the right place.

  • Today, 500 billion dollars a year goes into subsidies for fossil fuels.

  • Why don't we put a price on carbon and transfer this to the renewable energy?

  • Third, we need to measure and make it transparent

  • where, when and who is emitting greenhouse gases

  • so we can have actions specifically for each one of those opportunities.

  • Fourth, we need to leapfrog the routes of development,

  • which means, you don't need to go to the landline telephone

  • before you get to the mobile phones.

  • Same way we don't need to go to fossil fuels

  • to the one billion people who don't have access to energy

  • before we get to the clean energy.

  • And fifth and last,

  • we need to share responsibility between governments,

  • business and civil society.

  • There is work to do for everybody, and we need to have everybody on board.

  • So to finalize,

  • I think the future is not like a fate

  • that you have to just go as business as usual goes.

  • We need to have the courage to actually change the route,

  • invest in something new,

  • think that we can actually change the route.

  • I think we are doing this with deforestation in Brazil,

  • and I hope we can do it also with climate change in the world.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

When the Portuguese arrived in Latin America about 500 years ago,

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