Fábio Feldmann is the type of citizen whose intelligent discourse with its many nuances, ractifies his admirable curriculum. With a life dedicated to the environmental cause, this business administrator ,who graduated from Faculdade Getulio Vargas in 1977 and from Faculdade de Direito do Largo São Francisco as a lawyer in 1979, became known to public opinion with his participation in the Brazilian Parliament in the threes mandates for which he was elected Federal Representative from 1986 to 1998.He also participated actively in an important historical moment in national politics as Constituent Representative in the elaboration of the 1988 Constitution, being responsible for the elaboration of the chapter destined to the natural environment
This environmentalist , with freedom to restrict him to his most notorious area of work, came to the International School of Alphaville, for an interesting speech in the afternoon of October 16th . He was the fifth personality to speak here in the sequence of speeches offered to High School students for the subject called Entrepeneurship and Life Project.
In previous speeches, the chairman of Microsoft Brasil Michel Levy, the chairman of HSM Maganement Carlos Alberto Julio, headhunter Adilson de Paula Parrella, partner of Korn/Ferry International and general director of Starbucks Brasil Maria Luisa Novello Rodenbeck (in memorian) came to the International School.
Fabio was emphatic in talking about the question of sustainable development, calling attention to the importance of the theme at present, due to global warming which threatens to modify the dynamics of life in the planet. After explaining how the environmental question started in Brazil, he pointed out the importance of urgent action to start changing the situation.
– 2007 is a particularly important year, due to the release of the report by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climatic Changes, which changed society´s perception on the theme; and also Al Gore´s film [An Inconvenient Truth] ,which gave him the Nobel Prize of Peace, signalling a very dramatic situation in this direction".
The environmental question first appeared in the 70´s -more precisely in 1972- at the Stockholm Conference, placing this date as a landmark in the fight to preserve nature.
– It was in this great United Nations conference that we first became aware of the dimension of the problem in a worldwide context. At the time it was very difficult to place the problem in the dimension it deserved. The subject was interpreted almost poetically. Brasil registered a very conservative position, going to Stockholm to say that its worst problem was poverty and that the environmental question was in a second plane. I mention this because it is a recurrent position.
After the Stockholm Conference, during the 70´s and 80´s, several NGOs came up focused on preserving the natural environment, notably the most known of all: Greenpeace, which has more than 2.7 million members around the world- 3% of Holland´s population integrates the NGO.
– I am part of Greenpeace´s board, which started at that time. By the way,for those of you who are having classes on entrepeneurship , it is worth remembering how Greenpeace started. A group of young people, alternative, almost hippies, (an expression which is outdated now), decided to protest against the nuclear explosions in the Pacific,promoted specially by France.Then, four or five people decided to orchestrate against this and put a small ad in an alternative newspaper, asking if anyone had a boat to lend, as the idea was to stay at the area of the bombing to avoid the test. They have positively radical strategies and started to use the power of the press to create facts to promote the cause.
Hole in the ozone layer
During the 70´s one of the most relevant facts was the beginning of Greenpeace and the 80´s was marked by the publishing of an image which showed the hole in the ozone layer.
– The fact that the news of the hole was released is important because if until half of the 70´s and beginning of the 80´s it was discussed and polemic, the image settled the doubts. The hole exists, there is no more argument. Humankind is impacting the planet in a dramatic way. The technology invented by man ,which brought benefits to humankind, collects its share, as in the case of carbon dioxide, which when emitted in the atmosphere causes a chemical molecular reaction, reducing the ozone layer. The scientists who published the results relating the CFC to the destruction of the ozone layer were questioned at the time. And now these scientists got the Nobel Prize for the pioneerism of this association.With alarming data at hand, the countries decided to take action and meetings are now taking place.The first meeting was the IPCC. In 1988, there was a panel creating a `fundamental institutionality to discuss global warming´ ( the Intergovernmental Panel of Climatic Changes).
– The IPCC unites scientists of the whole world and each five years makes a report. What does the 1990 report say? That there is a great probability that we face a problem called global warming. To solve this, we have to reduce to a level of 70% the emission of gases causing the greenhouse effect, in order to maintain the stability of the climatic system of the planet. And what does the last panel of IPCC say? That there are no doubts that we are responsible for global warming, contrary to the thesis that this was caused by natural cycles that the planet goes through.It says that global warming is happening and that the consequences will be extremely severe. The sea level will increase from 30 centimeters to a meter and a half. Maybe the most important information to remember is that the IPCC made these studies without considering the melting of the Arctic and part of the Antarctic.Five years ago scientists didn´t predict the melting of the Arctic. That is, reality is showing itself, the speed of changes of global warming is showing itself radically more intense than previously imagined. And the melting of the Arctic is clearly shown in Al Gore´s film.
ECO – 92 and sustainable development
All this movement resulted in a historic conference in the beginning of the 90´s . ECO – 92, in Rio de Janeiro, was the biggest made by the United Nations. With an agenda of debates questioning environmental problems, it showed an important mobilization of society for the conference.
– It took four years of preparation involving not only governments, but also what is called civil society . Nowadays this is normal, but up to 92 the idea of a civil society with rights of debating, discussing and formulating public politics was minor, and Rio 92 makes the role of civil society legitimate. Up to my generation, which lived during the authoritarian regime, governments were the only ones representing the people. There is a break of paradigm. Governments are essential when elected and legitimate, but they are not the only ones representing society.The conference has this characteristic. It is a great world mobilization about this theme, and as I participated I can say we failed in not predicting the process, what would come after. The great mistake was to imagine that a United Nations conference could change the world in which we live.And that changes do not bring movements of resistence.
As a result of Eco – 92 , Agenda 21 was elaborated ( a kind of guide dictating a series of actions to transform the world in which we live in a more sustainable society) . Agenda 21 is a fundamental document for those wishing to work with sustainable development, and it made the theme universal.
– Everyone talks about sustainable development, everything today is sustainable. Why is the idea of sustainable development important?It is our ethical obligation with future generations. Some indigenous nations consider the impact a decision will have on the next nine generations before making it.
The Kyoto Protocol and Bush
1997 was a year in which global warming and climatic changes were in vogue. Time magazine chose planet Earth as the personality of the year , and the Kyoto Conference took place. Its discussions resulted in the Kyoto Protocol, which asked for a reduction of 5.2%, in average, of gases causing the greenhouse effect, starting with industrialized countries. Why them? Because those who started the Industrial Revolution launched carbon in the atmosphere and it stays there for a long period of time. This is the picture of the Kyoto Protocol. However, in 2000, when he assumed the presidency of the biggest industrialized country in the world, George W. Bush removed the USA from the Protocol (the country emits one fourth of the carbon dioxide of the planet).
– Why did Bush withdraw? Of course Bush is a special character.Two years ago he was asked what he thought about the fires that were occurring in the US and he answered: the problem with fires in forests is the existence of forests. This shows us a little the level of resistence to face the problem.The great villain, the main cause of global warming is the emission of greenhouse effect gases in the atmosphere - generated by fossil fuels, petroleum. Humankind should be told to use other sources of energy ,but this involves geopolitical changes. And power games in society. The USA didn´t go to Somalia or Iraq to defend human rights. The USA didn´t sign the convention of biodiversity claiming that certain subjects would hinder the interests of American pharmaceutical industries.
Petrobras and diesel with sulphur
The company promotes the project called Projeto Tamar, the biggest action in Brazil in preserving species (turtles , in this case). Petrobras promotes an image of sustainable company;however, there is another side of the company to be seen: Petrobras supplies the market with a diesel containing 500 particles of sulphur per million (chemical which is highly toxic if released in the atmosphere).In Europe, 10 particles per million and in the USA 15 particles per million are the accepted standards.
– In 2000 a resolution of the National Council of Pollutants established that as of 2009, Pertobras would have to supply diesel with 50 particles per million.The company says it will supply it starting in 2015. What are we doing - – Greenpeace, SOS Mata Atlântica, IDEC, Secretária Estadual do Meio Ambiente(Natural Environment State Office ), etc? Going to the National Council of Advertisement Regulation and asking them to withdraw any advertisement where Petrobras says it is sustainable. Starting a lawsuit, because the Stock Exchange Market of São Paulo has an indicator of entrepeneurial sustainability.And talking to the Brazilian Medical Association in order to calculate how many deaths are being caused by the supply of this fuel. Thesis: no study shows that the human lung is better than the European. This is a concrete example of the difficulties of sustainability.
Fábio gives another example of how environmentalists work - related to cutting forests and its causes.
– Brazil cuts 18 thousand km² of forests each year, an area the size of Sergipe state.The main cause is soy and farming. We spoke to Bunge and Cargill, the main buyers of Brazilian soy. They wouldn´t talk to us. We made an action in England : environmentalists dressed up as chicken in front of McDonalds, stimulating consumers not to buy McNugget, in order to help avoid the destruction of the Amazon. Conclusion, McDonalds called the companies and said: you sort things out with environmentalists or we will not buy soy from you anymore. We are now starting negotiations for what is called ´responsible soy´. What is this? It is the consumer in his political role.
Change of habit
Despite the delicate sitution that global warming and damage to the environment have reached, Fábio Feldmann believes there is still time to serve the planet.
– There is still time to change the picture with a series of measures: substituting fossil fuels, avoiding the cutting of trees, ( Brazil is the fourth or fifth in greenhouse effect gas emission in the world), etc. We have reached a point of consciousness to be able to change habits and attitutudes. We must find alternatives and have practical problems. Automobiles are a great challenge. In São Paulo, for each two inhabitants there is one car. Imagine in China. And the automobile isn´t just a means of transportation, but much more complex.The symbol of coming of age is the driver´s license.
Exemplifying, he recalls when he was Secretary of the Natural Environment and instituted the car rotation system in São Paulo.
– I instituted the rotation when I had access to the data which showed the thermic inversion in São Paulo.There is an increase in death rates (16,2%) of children under the age of five and of old people over 65, thus a public health case.
The environmentalist listed the pre requisites for those wishing to work with sustainability : being curious and viewing the problem in a wide and holistic context.
– I am a lawyer and use my knowledge constantly. I also have to know something about engineering, such as the dynamics of how a car works , and chemistry to explain the pollutant gases, medicine, to know that those who live in São Paulo smoke two packs of cigarette a day,about communication... Many of you will want to work for a NGO such as Greenpeace, it is a promising field. A Greenpeace lawyer, should there be an invasion of a polluting factory, must know the legal consequences , the kinds of suits the company might have , avoid lawsuits.The professional of the future must work with the challenge of sustainability in mind. Every company will have to have strategies of sustainability.Global warming is humankind´s great challenge and it has never had such a dramatic challenge: having to change in such a short span of time. We must be prepared to adapt ourselves ;and this will happen in the next ten years. You will be the ones to build this new society.
Students interview Feldman
Marcos C Pereira – On the subject of sustainable companies, I would like to know what you think about Banco Real´s proposal, if their idea is fair and deserves credit?
Fabio Feldmann: I believe so, but what we have to see is : up to which point is sustainability in the business or marginal?I think it is important to recycle paper, but this must be integral to the business. Now they have an agenda built with norms of sustainability, energy saving, natural lighting, reutilization of water.My question is :how many Real agencies will be built with sustainability in mind in five years?
Beatriz Ferreira Bulla – I have several questions. Why did you take two college courses? Did you imagine you would be an environmentalist? How was your first job as a politician? How do you analyse FHC´s and Lula´s positions with respect to the natural environment?
Fabio Feldmann: I studied Law because I felt it would complement my professional activity ; my first option was Business Administration. Every ten years new activities come up. I started to work with natural environment in 1975, creating an NGO, Associação Brasileira de Preservação Natureza, to defend a region called Caucaia do Alto, where Cumbica Airport is located. After finishing my Law course , I started to work with environmental questions and only later started in Politics. When PMDB launched me as a candidate in 1986, we thought I stood no chance.I participated in 180 debates throughout Brazil, and through these debates I got elected Representative. These were extremely debated elections. As for recent politics, , I took part in the creation , with Fernando Henrique, of the Fórum Brasileiro de Mudanças Climáticas( Brazilian Forum of Climatic Changes), in 2000. Its aim was to open a debate in civil society about climatic changes and prepare the President of Brazil to debate the topic internationally. Because in international events about climatic changes the president represents the country. He has to be prepared for this discussion. In Germany it is Angela Merkel, in France Nicolas Sarkozy... Then along comes Lula´s government and ... I was Executive Secretary of the Forum but couldn´t get a meeting with Lula; I tried but it never worked out. Then the Estado de São Paulo newspaper published an article saying I was responsible for the organization and never met with the President, then I was fired. He is outdated.I told him this: if you adopt the cause of global warming , you will be the next Nelson Mandela.If he would only see the importance of global warming, he could be the new Nelson Mandela. Unfortunately, however, he is not a modern man who can look beyond and he totally neglected the theme.
I would like to add this: that in the phase of taking vestibular and having to deal with all this pressure you have a bigger life expectancy than my generation. Therefore, two or three years won´t make the slightest difference to you. You must give yourselves the possibility to have lots of experience, to travel abroad, which are just as important as a Master´s or Doctor´s degree.
Juliana Piesco - I would like to know your opinion about the international trade of carbon credit, how much the business of private companies who pay other companies to plant trees and substitute, in theory, the carbon in the atmosphere is really effective.
Fábio Feldmann: Great question. The credit of carbon comes with the Kyoto Protocol and establishes targets of 20,2% of reduction of toxic emission. In the seizure of carbon, the idea is that trees get this carbon and absorb it, because trees are made of wood, that is, concentrated carbon. Symbolically this is an important gesture , but in practice, we must know which tree will be planted, and if other conditions may affect this aim. I must know how much carbon I am emitting and how much I am seizing. I think we must be cautious.
Tatiana Coelho Wscieklica – I would like to know about Click Árvore, a program of replanting forests with native species of the Mata Atlântica (Atlantic Forest) done on the Internet, in which each click means a tree will be planted. Should credit be given to it?
Fábio Feldmann: A tropical forest is complex, 128 different species are necessary to form one. The seizure of carbon is important, but not the main thing. There must be ecoefficiency,conscious production, etc.
Janelso Rodrigues Sousa – We are learning about regional planning in the Amazon , and we can see that it is a problem of fiscalization. Is it truly the problem?
Fábio Feldmann: The problem with the Amazon and all of Brazil is the rigorous absence of the Brazilian State. You fly hours and there is no state, it is a no-man´s land. Free areas for land grabbing and all kinds of irregularity.