Elon Musk met with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to discuss Amazon rainforest protection and rural internet connectivity.
The SpaceX and Tesla chief tweeted that he was “super excited” to be in the South American country and said environmental monitoring of the Amazon was on the agenda – posting a emoji tree.
The billionaire, who is currently in talks to buy social network Twitter for $44 billion, said he was also there for the launch of Starlink, a space-based system to bring internet access to underserved parts of the world, which will help connect thousands of unconnected schools in rural areas.
The trip came as Mr Musk also strongly defended himself against accusations he sexually harassed a flight attendant on a private jet flight to London in 2016.
Fábio Faria, Brazilian Minister of Communications, welcomed Mr. Musk and confirmed the topics of the discussion, but gave a few other details adding only “Let’s do it!” »
It remains unclear what Mr. Musk’s discussions on environmental monitoring of the Amazon with the Brazilian government will entail.
-Conversei há pouco com @Elon Musk que visita o Brasil a convite do Ministro @fabiofaria . Among other things, benefits, conectividade tratamos, investments, inovação eo uso da tecnologia como reforço na protection de nossa Amazonia et na realização do potencial econômico do Brasil. pic.twitter.com/mijIdgvJS5
— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) May 20, 2022
Bolsonaro and Musk also appeared in a video streamed live on the president’s Facebook account in which they stood side by side on stage to answer questions from audience members.
“A lot can be done to improve the quality of life through technology,” Musk told the crowd, according to The Associated Press.
The Amazon rainforest is one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet and is also the largest in the world. Trees are key to slowing climate change because they absorb carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases that drives the rapid rate of global warming.
Amazon deforestation has exploded under Brazil’s right-wing president, who took office in 2019 after pledging to develop the Amazon, dismissing global concern over its destruction. Since then, Mr Bolsonaro’s government has boosted mining, cattle ranching and logging in the rainforest.
Late last year, deforestation in the Amazon reached its highest level in 15 years after jumping 22% in one year, according to official data. Then, in January, new satellite data revealed that around 166 square miles of forest had been cleared in a month, more than five times the number of trees felled in the same period the previous year.
Exceptional Deforestation Month came after more than 100 nations – including Brazil – pledged to stop deforestation and begin restoring the world’s forests by the end of the decade, in an agreement that encompasses 85 % of the world’s forests.
Meanwhile, Mr. Musk has been candid about the reality of climate change and the need to drastically cut emissions to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. He called for a carbon tax and said the “bright future” of cryptocurrency cannot come at the expense of the environment.
Musk has denounced in a report “totally false” allegations that he sexually harassed a flight attendant on a private jet in 2016.
Shares of the electric car maker fell more than 10% on Friday as Musk’s sexual misconduct allegations and political comments could threaten to hurt Tesla’s brand and sales.
Business Insider reported Thursday that Musk’s private company, SpaceX, paid $250,000 in 2018 to settle a sexual harassment claim from an unnamed private flight attendant who accused Musk of exposing himself to her.
The article quoted an anonymous person who said she was a friend of the flight attendant. The friend had provided a statement as part of the private settlement process, according to the article.
“I challenge this liar who claims her friend saw me ‘exposed’ – only describe one thing, anything (scars, tattoos) that is not publicly known. She won’t be able to not do it, because it never happened,” Musk wrote on Twitter.