Brazil set to reject aid for wildfires

NASA CO2 image
NASA's AIRS maps carbon monoxide from Brazil fires. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

News comes in today that, after being offered $22 million in aid from G7 countries to tackle the fires in the Amazon rainforest, the Brazilian Government is to turn down the money. It has yet to give any explicit reason for doing so

Following a long weekend of talks at the 45th G7 summit, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the G7 countries (the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the UK) had agreed to provide a $22-million firefighting fund to Brazil. However, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has since alluded to rejecting the offer, and his Chief of Staff Onyx Lorenzoni was quoted as saying: “We appreciate [the offer], but maybe those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe.”

The rejection seems to come amidst a continued public spat between Bolsonaro and Macron, which has now seen Bolsonaro turn down both the G7 funding and France’s offer of ‘concrete support with military in the region’, arguing that France is treating Brazil like a colony.

Macron replied, noting that he ‘respected Brazil’s sovereignty’, but that it was happening at the expense of the ‘lungs of the planet’. "The Amazon forest is a subject for the whole planet,” Macron said. “We can help you reforest. We can find the means for your economic development that respects the natural balance.”

In a recent statement, Greenpeace France described the G7's response to the crisis as, ‘inadequate given the urgency and magnitude of this environmental disaster’. And some environmental groups have criticised the sum of money offered by the G7, deeming it an inadequate amount for such a large-scale environmental issue.

In a release on 22 August, Greenpeace explained: "In addition to increasing emissions, deforestation contributes directly to a change in rainfall patterns in the affected region, extending the length of the dry season, further affecting forests, biodiversity, agriculture and human health."

So, what is being done to tackle the blazes? Reports detail that Bolsonaro has elicited the help of country’s armed forces, deploying around 44,000 Brazilian soldiers to help tackle the flames and, over the weekend, the Brazil Ministry of Defense shared images and videos of warplanes dumping water on the forest in an attempt to fight the wildfires.

Still, with a record number of fires burning in Brazil this year, more needs to be done to quell the flames and protect the planet from further wildfires and deforestation. On Monday, philanthropist Leonardo DiCaprio launched a fund to help tackle the fires, pledging an initial $5 million towards the cause. DiCaprio encouraged people to donate and also to do their bit in helping defend the Amazon rainforest. “Be a conscious consumer, taking care to support companies committed to responsible supply chains. Eliminate or reduce consumption of beef; cattle ranching is one of the primary drivers of Amazon deforestation,” he wrote on Instagram. He added: “When election time comes, VOTE for leaders who understand the urgency of our climate crisis and are willing to take bold action – including strong governance and forward-thinking policy.”

The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, home to roughly three million species of plants and animals and one million indigenous people.