Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday erupted in a Twitter rant against actor Leonardo DiCaprio and other celebrity environmental activists after DiCaprio complained about Amazon deforestation growing worse during Bolsonaro’s administration.
You again, Leo? This way, you will become my best electoral cable, as we say in Brazil!” Bolsonaro snarked, referring to his previous online feuds with the high-living celebrity activist.
“I could tell you, again, to give up your yacht before lecturing the world, but I know progressives: you want to change the entire world but never yourselves, so I will let you off the hook,” Bolsonaro hectored DiCaprio, mocking his titanic personal carbon footprint.
“Between us, it’s weird to see a dude who pretends to love the Planet paying more attention to Brazil than to the fires harming Europe and his own country,” Bolsonaro continued.
“One may wonder if you’re obsessed with my country (or its resources) or if you just believe Brazil is the only one on Earth,” the Brazilian president mused.
“But don’t worry, Leo, unlike the places you are pretending not to see by brilliantly playing the role of a blind man, Brazil is and will carry on being the nation that most preserves. You can carry on playing with your Hollywood star toys as we do our job,” Bolsonaro said combatively.
“Actually, in my government average deforestation is way lower than it was in the past, when the crook turned candidate that your Brazilian buddy supports was in power,” he taunted.
DiCaprio and another American actor, Mark Ruffalo, have been urging Brazilians to vote for Bolsonaro’s opponent in the October election, left-wing former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Bolsonaro proceeded to lecture DiCaprio about his environmental record, accusing him of using doctored images to criticize Brazil:
It’s clear that everyone who attacks Brazil and its sovereignty for the sake of virtue signaling doesn’t have a clue about the matter. They don’t know, for instance, that we preserve more than 80% of our native vegetation or that we have the cleanest energy among G20 nations.
It’s also clear that you don’t know that my government announced a new commitment to eradicate illegal deforestation by 2028, and not by 2030 as most countries. Or maybe you do know that, but for some reason pretend to be ignorant. I hope you [are] not getting [paid] too much for this role.
If it’s within your reach, we would love to see you stop spreading misinformation. In the recent past, you used a 2003 image to talk about the Amazon wildfires allegedly happening in 2019 and was exposed, but I have forgiven you. So please go and sin no more.
Brazil has indeed notched the highest G20 scores for reduced fossil fuel funding, although “greenness” is measured in many different ways; judged by its percentage of “clean” electricity production, Brazil would hold a solid third place after France and Canada. Brazil is noted for making little use of coal power, which pushes its clean energy scores above many other industrialized nations.
As Bolsonaro alluded to, Brazilian law requires farmers to preserve up to 80 percent of native vegetation. The legal requirements vary between different regions, with particular attention paid to the Amazon region, which has experienced substantial deforestation from both illegal logging and the clearing of farmland.
Bolsonaro’s Vice President Hamilton Mourao in October 2021 announced a program to eliminate illegal logging by 2028 at the latest, which he described as a “more ambitious goal” than the 2030 date Bolsonaro offered at a climate summit in April 2021.
The Bolsonaro administration has, however, been criticized for ignoring too many reports of illegal logging, and for allowing too much legal cutting.
Bolsonaro concluded his rant at DiCaprio with a mocking reference to another celebrity climate activist, Greta Thunberg:
By the way, what do you think about the hitting coal market in Europe? And what about Greta Timberlake, do you know what she has been up to lately and what she has to say about it? If I was hosting a barbecue in my house, I’m sure she would be yelling “How dare you?”
The Brazilian president’s crack about European coal markets referred to the European Union’s frantic efforts to import coal to meet its energy demands as Russia throttles back Europe’s energy supply. The Europeans import a great deal of thermal coal from Russia in addition to oil and gas, so they are seeking alternative suppliers during the political battle over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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