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'A victory for global climate action': Schatz hails da Silva election

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, praised the election of Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva as president of Brazil on Sunday, hailing the victory over authoritarian rival Jair Bolsonaro as a win for the environment.

“Lula’s win is a victory for global climate action,” said Schatz, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an outspoken advocate for action on climate change. “The importance of the Amazon as a carbon sink cannot be overstated and its preservation is critical to preventing the most destructive climate change scenarios.”

The 76-year-old da Silva, who previously served consecutive terms as president from 2003 to 2011, scored a narrow 50.90% to 49.10% victory over the right-wing incumbent known as “the Trump of the Tropics.”

Though wildly popular in his first run as president, the left-leaning da Silva was tarnished by a corruption scandal after leaving office and was imprisoned for more than a year until the Brazilian Supreme Court overturned his conviction.

Domestically, da Silva will be expected to address worsening economic conditions exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and stark political division akin to what has befallen the United States. Meanwhile, environmentalists around the world are also counting on him to halt the rapid deforestation of the Amazon, which accelerated under Bolsonaro’s administration.

“Lula significantly curbed deforestation during his previous tenure in office, and I am eager to work with him to restore environmental protections in the Amazon, support indigenous communities, and drive international progress on climate,” Schatz said.

In his victory speech, da Silva urged the country to fight for “zero deforestation.”