Amazon fires: Brazil to reject G7 offer of $22m aid

The Brazilian government has said it will reject an offer of aid from G7 countries to help tackle fires in the Amazon rainforest.

French President Emmanuel Macron – who hosted a G7 summit that ended on Monday – said $22m (£18m) would be released.

But Brazilian ministers say the money is not needed and accuse foreign powers of wanting control of the Amazon.

Satellite data shows fires – mostly in the Amazon – are burning at record levels.

Commenting on the G7 offer of aid, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, told the Globo news website: “Thanks, but maybe those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe.

“Macron cannot even avoid a predictable fire in a church that is part of the world’s heritage, and he wants to give us lessons for our country?” Mr Lorenzoni added, in a reference to the fire that hit Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris in April.

Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo says there are already mechanisms under the auspices of the UN climate convention to fight deforestation.

“Efforts of some political currents to extrapolate real environmental issues into a fabricated ‘crisis’ as a pretext for introducing mechanisms for external control of the Amazon are very evident,” he added in a tweet.

A Brazilian farmer walks through a burnt area of the Amazon in Rondonia state
Brazilian farmer walks through a burnt area of the Amazon in Rondonia state

Mr Bolsonaro has previously said his government lacked the resources to fight the record number of fires in the Amazon.

Greenpeace France has described the G7’s response to the crisis as “inadequate given the urgency and magnitude of this environmental disaster”, it said in a statement (in French).

On Monday, actor Leonardo DiCaprio pledged $5m towards helping the rainforest.

One world expert on forestry says what is needed in Brazil is a change in political priorities.

“The funding for Brazil’s environment agency has gone down by 95% this year, it [has] essentially gutted large part of the actions that have been put in by the agricultural ministry,” Yadvinder Malhi, professor of Ecosystem Science at the University of Oxford, told the BBC’s Today programme.

“So the real thing is to look at the political direction of governance in the Amazon that’s changing under the new Brazilian government.”

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