Deforestation in Amazon skyrockets to 12-year high

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest has skyrocketed to a 12-year high in 2020.

Government data released on Monday (November 30) showed more than 11,000 square kilometers have been wiped away, a patch that's roughly seven times the size of London taken out of the world's largest rainforest and that's up 10 percent from 2019.

This year, fires have blazed through the Amazon and environmentalists have blamed the government.

The devastation tracks with the time since President Jair Bolsonaro took office.

Bolsonaro has weakened Brazil's environmental agency and called for more commercial farming and mining arguing it will lift the region out of poverty.

Critics say this has encouraged illegal ranchers, miners and land grabbers to clear the forest.

The rate of destruction means Brazil will miss its own target to stop deforestation that it set over a decade ago under a climate change law.

It's not clear what consequences there will be for missing that goal, but federal officials say the latest figures are actually progress.

Technically, 2019 saw a much higher jump in the rate of destruction from the year before, even though the amount of forest destroyed in 2020 is at decade highs.

And on Monday, Vice President Hamilton Mourao said that was a sign efforts to fight deforestation were quote 'beginning to bear fruit.'

The destruction of the Amazon has caused international outrage.

As the world's largest rainforest, its protection is crucial for stopping climate change because of the vast amounts of carbon dioxide it absorbs.

Video Transcript

- Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest has skyrocketed to a 12-year high in 2020. Government data released on Monday showed more than 11,000 square kilometers have been wiped away. That's a patch of roughly seven times the size of London taken out of the world's largest rainforest, and it's also up 10% from 2019.

This year, fires have blazed through the Amazon, and environmentalists have blamed the government. The devastation tracks with the time since President Jair Bolsonaro took office. Bolsonaro has weakened Brazil's environmental agency and called for more commercial farming and mining, arguing it will lift the region out of poverty. Critics say this has encouraged illegal ranchers, miners, and land grabbers to clear the forest.

The rate of destruction means Brazil will miss its own target to stop deforestation that it set over a decade ago under a climate-change law. It's not clear what consequences there will be for missing that goal, but federal officials say the latest figures are actually progress. Technically, 2019 saw a much higher jump in the rate of deforestation even though the amount of forest destroyed in 2020 is at decade highs. And on Monday, Vice President Hamilton Mourao said that was a sign efforts to fight deforestation were, quote, "beginning to bear fruit."

The destruction of the Amazon has caused international outrage. As the world's largest rainforest, its protection is crucial for stopping climate change because of the vast amounts of carbon dioxide it absorbs.