Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been under constant attack from the Amazon rainforest’s soaring deforestation, is set to be given the cold shoulder at the G20 summit in Rome.
While most leaders attending this weekend’s gathering in Italy are having multiple bilateral meetings, Bolsonaro has only two face-to-face encounters scheduled, according to his press office.
On Friday evening, Bolsonaro saw Italy’s president Sergio Mattarella, a formality since Italy hosts the gathering of the leaders of the 20 largest economies. The second meeting is set to happen Saturday with Mathias Cormann, the new head of the OECD, which Brazil is bidding to join.
More meetings could be arranged, the president’s press office said, while stressing that only these two are on for now.
Brazil matters. Latin America’s largest economy is home to the world’s biggest rain forest and has traditionally played an important role in multilateral fora. Which is why it’s surprising that it cannot carve out more one-to-one meetings.
The problem is that Bolsonaro has drawn international outrage over increased deforestation in the Amazon, as well as other regions including the Cerrado and Pantanal wetlands. Brazil’s carbon dioxide emissions soared last year due to greater deforestation in regions including the Amazon, according to a report published Thursday by Observatorio do Clima, a network of Brazilian environmental organizations.
Bolsonaro, who defends opening up the world’s largest rainforest to agriculture and mining, said he won’t attend the COP26 climate meeting in Glasgow, Scotland. France and European Union countries have said a trade deal with the Mercosur countries, which includes Brazil, won’t be ratified until progress is done on climate change.
Alberto Fernández, the president of Argentina, Brazil’s smaller neighbour, has meetings scheduled with Germany’s Angela Merkel, Canada’s Justin Trudeau and the president of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen.