Following global trends of climate litigation against governments evolving to litigation against private entities, a new lawsuit recently filed in Brazil is an interesting development in the country. In this blog post, we provide an overview on this new lawsuit in consideration to what is next in climate litigation in Brazil.

In April, the Brazilian Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office filed a public civil action against a rural landowner, seeking the landowner’s accountability for alleged illegal deforestation connected to breeding cattle in the Amazon. This kind of lawsuit is very common in Brazil, but one of the prosecutor’s claims is worth of attention.

Aside from demanding compensation for environmental damages, collective damages, as well as compensation due to the profits illegally obtained in the logging process, the prosecutor required that the defendant pay compensation for climate damages resulting from the deforestation, something until now unwitnessed in cases of this sort in Brazil. Not only that, the Prosecutor’s Office also indicated the indemnification amount due in connection with such climate damages.

By employing a carbon calculator software developed by IPAM, the Amazonian Research Institute, the Prosecutor’s Office calculated how much carbon was expected to have been released into the atmosphere per hectare of deforestation in that particular area. With that information, knowing the extension of the deforestation and using the carbon pricing practiced by the Amazon Fund, the Prosecutor’s Office came to the conclusion that the defendant was liable for a BRL 44.7 million compensation for climate damages.

Besides being an innovative calculation method, not seen before in Brazilian courts, this is also significant because IPAM’s software is public, accessible online and free to use. Even though, as of the moment, it is only able to calculate emissions in the Northern-most states of the country, the fact that it is available online makes it a relevant tool for prospective litigators, possibly contributing to the trend of climate litigation against private entities in Brazil.

Although the case is pending trial, on April 21st a preliminary injunction was granted in favor of the Prosecutor’s Office, commanding the defendant to remove his cattle from the area and suspending the issuance of cattle transportation licenses in connection with the property. Among the Court’s reasoning for granting said injunction was the recognition that the defendant’s actions were harming the environment and the climate.