Brazil Rejects G-7’s Offer Of $22 Million To Fight Amazon Fires – NPR

After the G-7 nations pledged millions of dollars to help Amazon countries fight wildfires, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he’s not interested unless he gets an apology.

Eraldo Peres/AP


hide caption

toggle caption

Eraldo Peres/AP

After the G-7 nations pledged millions of dollars to help Amazon countries fight wildfires, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he’s not interested unless he gets an apology.

Eraldo Peres/AP

Brazil says it will reject an offer of at least $22 million from the rich countries in the Group of Seven, which had offered the money to help fight fires sweeping through the Amazon rainforest. But Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he don’t want the cash — unless it comes with an apology from French President Emmanuel Macron.

Bolsonaro and Macron have engaged in a days-long spat after the French leader called for action to protect the Amazon and said the fires are a world environmental crisis that Bolsonaro has allowed to worsen. He also said Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic, had lied about his effort to combat deforestation.

Bolsonaro responded angrily, saying Macron insulted him and was trying to undermine Brazil’s sovereignty by intervening in the Amazon.

“This squabble’s infuriating Bolsonaro’s critics,” NPR’s Philip Reeves reports from Rio de Janeiro. “They say he should fight the fires — not the French.”

On Monday, Bolsonaro said in a tweet that that he won’t accept what he called Macron’s “attacks.” He also accused Macron of treating Brazil “as if we were a colony or no man’s land.”

In an interview on French TV, Macron later referred to the Amazon as “the lungs of the planet” and pledged that the G-7 group would help Brazil balance its economic development with environmental concerns. In an aside addressed to Bolsonaro, he added, “But we cannot allow you to destroy everything.”

On Tuesday morning, Bolsonaro said Macron would have to take back all the things he said about him before he would even consider the G-7 offer of monetary aid.

Bolsonaro made those remarks to reporters in Brasilia shortly after the website G1 reported that the president’s chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, had rejected the G-7 offer outright.

“Thanks, but perhaps these resources are more relevant to reforesting Europe,” Lorenzoni was quoted saying. Referring to the recent Notre Dame blaze in Paris, he went on to suggest that if Macron cannot “avoid a predictable fire in a church,” he might not have much to teach much to Brazil.

Macron made the devastating fires in the Amazon a key point for the G-7 summit even before the meetings began in Biarritz. Saying, “The ocean and the forest that burns in the Amazon call us. We have to answer them,” he added, “the time is no longer for words, but for deeds.”

The offer of money from the G-7 nations has also drawn attention because of its modest size — in relation both to it source among some of the world’s largest economies, and to the task it’s meant to accomplish.

“It’s really only symbolic,” Nigel Sizer, the chief program officer at the non-profit Rainforest Alliance, told NPR. “It’s less than Americans spend on popcorn in a typical day.”

In that light, Sizer said, it’s not surprising that Brazil has rejected the offer. And he added that the problem is partly political, as well.

“The fact is that Brazil has the resources and the expertise to address this challenge,” Sizer said. “Since the Bolsonaro government came into power at the beginning of this year, they have systematically defunded their environmental protection agencies.”

The shocking losses of the Amazon rainforest have prompted intense reactions globally. In addition to the formal G-7 offer, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has offered to send the affected nations 10 million pounds (around $12.2 million), and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered to send $15 million and water bomber planes to fight the fires.

As awareness spread on social media and elsewhere, donations have poured in from all over, Sizer said.

“The people of the world actually are pledging more resources than the G-7 has been committing,” he said. “We’ve seen millions and millions of dollars coming in.”

Actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio has also stepped in, with his Earth Alliance group creating a $5 million emergency Amazon fund to help indigenous communities and others who are working to protect the Amazon’s prodigious biodiversity from being destroyed.

Comments

Write a Reply or Comment:

Your email address will not be published.*