GLAND, SWITZERLAND -- (Marketwire) -- 05/11/12 -- Three of the world's leading conservation and advocacy organizations will today begin a mass mobilization of their 22 million supporters to call on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to veto the Forest Code bill passed by the House of Deputies.
WWF, Greenpeace and Avaaz say the proposed changes to the Forest Code would threaten recent successes in reducing forest loss and compromise efforts to tackle corruption in the Amazon region.
Already more than 1.3 million people from around the world have signed Avaaz's petition calling on President Rousseff to veto the proposed Forest Code; this number is expected to rise dramatically in the next few days. Likewise, hundreds of thousands of WWF and Greenpeace supporters have echoed the call on social media channels such Twitter, using #SOSBrazil and #VetaTudoDilma, and by posting messages directly to the Facebook page of the president's political party, Partidodos Trabalhadores.
The petition will be bolstered by a campaign by the three groups to have their millions of supporters deluge Brazilian embassies around the world with messages and calls showing global opposition to the bill.
President Rousseff has not given public reaction nor indicated whether she intends to fight the measure since it was passed on 25 April. The groups say that only a full veto will safeguard Brazil's forests and the global climate. President Rousseff received the bill this week and has until 25 May to veto all or part of the bill, or to allow it to become law.
'Over the past decade, Brazil has achieved stunning progress in reducing deforestation in the Amazon. We recognize that President Rousseff is under massive political pressure from those who would burn the forest for short-term gain, but we urge her to stand firm for the protection of the forest resources that are so vital to the future of all Brazilians, and the world,' said Jim Leape, WWF International Director General.
Brazil's Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA) has estimated that the new legislation could lead to the loss of up to 76.5 million hectares (190 million acres) of forest, which translates to 28 billion tonnes of added CO2 in the atmosphere. This would make it impossible for Brazil to reach its carbon reduction targets.
'Thousands of people from all over the world are sounding the alarm and calling Brazilian embassies to urge President Rousseff to save the Amazon. Nearly 80 per cent of Brazilians want this catastrophic bill scrapped, and so far over a million people across the world support them. President Rousseff has a choice - sign the Amazon's death sentence or protect the planet's lungs and emerge a public hero,' said Ricken Patel, Avaaz Executive Director.
'President Dilma Rousseff stands at a defining moment for her presidency. The choice is clear. She can ignore the Brazilian people and side with 'destruction as usual' as enshrined in the new Forest Code or exercise her veto and support the call for a new Zero Deforestation Law. We urge her to take the visionary path of a leader who understands that with power comes responsibility,' said Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International Executive Director.
The groups further criticize the bill's amnesty provisions for past illegal forest clearance. The proposed amnesties would not only free environmental criminals from prosecution, but also forfeit an estimated US$4.8 billion in fines.
The groups are urging President Rousseff to listen to her own constituents - 94 per cent of whom say they are concerned about the environment, according to a recent survey conducted for the National Industry Confederation - and to the global movement that is calling for a veto.
Note to Editors: the petition can be found here: http://www.avaaz.org/en/veto_dilma_global/?wwf.
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
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