Brazil awaits decision of Amazon campaigner

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After a day of mourning yesterday, following the death of Brazilian socialist presidential candidate Eduardo Campos on Wednesday, thoughts have already turned to whether his running mate Marina Silva will replace him on the PSB ticket.

Solar watchers have been quick to lament what the untimely passing of Campos, in a light aircraft crash, would mean for PV in Brazil, with the candidate having overseen – as governor of Pernambuco state and a former science and technology minister – the nation’s first solar-only energy auction which this year prompted tenders for 123 MW of PV in the state.

But the environmental and sustainability credentials of Campos’ charismatic running mate are second to none.

Former Amazonia rubber-tapper Silva, who has until Saturday, August 23, to decide whether to take up the nomination for the Brazilian Socialist Party – the Partido Socialista Brasileiro – is an impassioned protector of the rainforest who has won a string of international accolades for her environmental and sustainable development campaigning.

Enviroment minister under incumbent president Dilma Rousseff, who lead the polls with around 38% of the vote before Wednesday’s tragic news, as he campaigns for a second term; Silva campaigned to halt Amazon deforestation, from 2003 to 2008, before resigning after resistance from the country’s powerful agrobusiness lobby.

Switched parties

Silva switched from Rouseff’s Workers Party to the Green Party and secured a record number of votes for the Greens when she came third in presidential elections four years ago.

Having had her attempt to found a new political party – the Sustainability Network – thwarted by electoral regulators who claimed she had not gathered the sufficient number of signatures, Silva entered an unlikely alliance with the PSB and subsequently agreed to be Campos’ running mate.

Silva, whom some pollsters predict would overhaul Conservative candidate Aecio Neves’ estimated 22% of the vote if she announces her candidacy, was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for Central and South America in 1996, was named one of the Champions of the Earth by the United Nations’ Environment Program in 2007 and won the organization’s Sophie Prize for international environment and development work two years later.

With the election on October 5, pollsters say the PSB is currently third in the race, with around 10% of the vote.