The government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Workers’ Party) has mobilized in recent days in favor of two actions considered environmentally controversial. This Thursday (25), he announced tax benefits to facilitate the sale of new cars in the country. Days earlier, through Petrobras, he reinforced his intention to explore for oil at the mouth of the Amazon River. All of this aimed at economic growth.
In the case of encouraging car consumption, it was announced by the vice-president and Minister of Industry, Geraldo Alckmin (Brazilian Socialist Party). Provides for discounts of 1.5% to 10.96% on federal taxes levied on vehicles to stimulate their production, job creation and to reduce idleness in the national automobile industry.
A day earlier, on Wednesday (24), Petrobras informed that it will appeal the decision of the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) that denied it the license to drill an oil well in deep waters in Amapá, a state that makes up the Legal Amazon.
The president of the state-owned company appointed by Lula, Jean Paul Prates, and the Minister of Mines and Energy, Alexandre Silveira (Social Democratic Party), argue that the fields on the so-called Equatorial Margin, in northern Brazil, are a kind of “new pre-salt” for the country.
Both the incentive for cars and the natural resources exploitation near the Amazon have aroused criticism from environmentalists.
Speaking of tax incentives for the production of new cars, Alckmin stated that the government will take energy efficiency into account when granting tax discounts. According to him, cars that use less fuel and pollute less will be sold with greater tax exemptions than the others.
Mobility in check
Rafael Calabria, coordinator of Urban Mobility at the Brazilian Institute of Consumer Defense (Idec), stated that the government could grant tax discounts for the purchase of bicycles, urban buses or vehicles on rails with a view to stimulating the industry. For him, it would also create jobs and not cause as many side effects on the environment and mobility in big cities.
“The negative impacts are undervalued [by governments]. The policy does not consider collisions, pedestrians being run over and pollution, which are a consequence of the incentive,” he said. “This is without measuring the entire impact on productivity, on cargo delays.”
The mobility specialist even sees the government’s willingness to encourage more sustainable transport. For him, however, Lula and his team lack a strategic vision to make better decisions.“It is not a lack of commitment. The Ministry of the Environment has excellent staff. I think this link between the government’s proposals and a more progressive scientific vision is missing,” he said.
Lula and Alckmin published this Thursday (25) an article in the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo defending the country’s reindustrialization. In the text, they mention the term “neo-industrialization” and say that “in the coming years, industry will be the guiding principle of an economic policy aimed at generating income and more knowledge-intensive jobs”.
In the article, Lula and Alckmin highlight which sectors linked to sustainability will be prioritized. They even mention cars powered by ethanol. “We can export cars or flex-fuel engines to markets capable of using ethanol in Asia, Africa and Latin America.”
The Minister of Finance, Fernando Haddad said this week that, in the second half of this year, he intends to dedicate himself to the green economy agenda. “Starting from August, I want to dedicate a lot of Ministry of Finance’s time to the issue of ecological transition”, he said.
Edited by: Flávia Chacon e Rodrigo Durão Coelho