Brazil rejects G7 emergency funds to fight Amazon fires

Thursday, 29 Aug, 2019

"Brazil is and will always be an global reference in sustainable development".

The Amazon is billed as the "the lungs of the planet", as the rainforest produces about a fifth of the total oxgyen needed for life on earth.

"By minimizing our sovereignty, he has awakened the patriotism of the Brazilian people and other countries here in South America that are part of the Amazonian region", said Bolsonaro.

On Tuesday morning, Bolsonaro said he would only countenance accepting G7 money if Macron retracted his earlier comments.

In a statement, the two leaders said environmental challenges must be met while respecting "national sovereignty". "We will determine where the money will be applied, it's useless if those resources get here and go to worldwide NGOs".

At a summit in France this week, G-7 nations pledged $20-million for the effort, with a separate $12-million from Britain and $11-million from Canada.

"Macron can not 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?" he said, quoted by the Globo news website. "What does he intend to teach our country?" the senior official continued.

A regional conservationist said "the ideal scenario" would be if the Amazon countries agree on how to preserve the region and receive robust worldwide support in order to do it.

In an irate response to a remark made by Bolsonaro on social media, Macron on Monday said he hoped "Brazilians would soon have a president worthy of them". To step up the pressure on Brazil, Norway and Germany have halted donations to Brazil's Amazon support fund. France has even mooted the idea of blocking an European Union trade deal with South American nations.

The Brazilian President responded on Twitter saying they were successful in fighting the fires.

That, in conjunction with his reluctance to commit major resources to fight the Amazon fires, has some Indigenous elders concerned genocide could be around the corner.

The fires started in July and have consumed 18,000 square kilometers (6,950 square miles) in the Bolivian Amazon and Santa Cruz, the country's agro-industrial center, according to satellite images assessed by Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza, a Bolivian environmental group. When their water supply ran out, they made a fire break, clearing brush with machetes and chain saws to starve the blaze of its fuel.

The number of blazes in Brazil has skyrocketed 80% in the year to date compared to the same period in 2018, according to data from space research agency INPE.

More than half of the fires are in the massive Amazon basin. While numerous recorded fires this year were set in already deforested areas by people clearing land for cultivation or pasture, Brazilian government figures indicate that they are much more widespread this year, suggesting the threat to the vast ecosystem is intensifying.

He said in 2014 an opposition congresswoman was "so ugly that she [did not] deserve to be raped", and in 2011 said he would rather have a dead son than a gay son. "The anti-environment rhetoric could expose Brazil to global sanctions". Smoke choked Port Velho city and forced the closure of the airport for almost two hours as fires raged in the northwestern state of Rondonia where fire-fighting efforts are concentrated, amid a growing global uproar and a diplomatic spat between France and Brazil.

However, environmentalists blame speculators who burn vegetation to clear it in hopes of selling the land to farmers and ranchers.

Still, smoke billowed from charred fields and scrub, shrouding the sky.

On Monday, Bolsonaro said in a tweet that he won't accept what he called Macron's "attacks". Trucks carrying fresh timber sped through a road that cut through lands where heaps of ash were piled around charred logs.

President Evo Morales said up to 30% of the burned area had been intact forest, while the rest was set on fire in the annual cycle of land-clearing.

"If tropical dense forests are affected by forest fires, they need many, many years to regroup". But we also depend on the wood for our economy.