Published On: Wed, Aug 28th, 2019

Amazon rainforest fire: G7’s £16million pledge ‘isn’t enough’ says French MEP | World | News

The G7’s pledge is a nice gesture, but is “like trying to put out a fire with a glass of water,” Mrs Aubry, a member of the European parliament, told the French news channel BFM TV. She said: “Let’s not fool ourselves”, before adding the European Union should “question” the role it has played in the deforestation of the Amazon. Mrs Aubry said: “The EU has not moved to ban [Brazilian] soy imports, despite the fact that soybean production is fuelling deforestation in Brazil.”

She also argued that “economic sanctions” should be imposed on Brazil to force it to change its environmental policies.  

G7 leaders pledged the $20million on Monday after discussing the fires roaring across an area often dubbed “the lungs of the world”. 

While some officials have welcomed the much-needed help, others view it as a colonial gesture designed to undermine Brazil’s sovereignty.

Brazil’s far-right, climate sceptic leader Jair Bolsonaro initially rejected the G7s offer, but his government appeared to backtrack on Tuesday after saying it was ready to accept foreign aid to help battle the fires on condition it could determine how it was spent.

Presidential spokesman Otavio Rego Barros told reporters in the capital Brasilia: “The Brazilian government, through its president, is open to receiving financial support from organisations and even countries.”

Without referring specifically to the G7’s offer, he added: “The essential point is that the money, on entering Brazil, will be under the control of the Brazilian people.”

The aid U-turn was seen as an apparent attempt to cool a bitter spat between the Brazilian and French presidents over the Amazon fires.

The two leaders have been entangled in a very personal and public war of words in recent days, with Mr Bolsonaro accusing France’s Emmanuel Macron of meddling in Brazil’s internal affairs and mocking the French first lady’s physique.

Mr Macron, for his part, has accused his Brazilian counterpart of lying to him about his commitments to fighting climate change and condemned the “extremely disrespectful” comments about his 66-year-old wife, Brigitte. 

Mr Macron, in the run up to the G7 summit last week, described the fires as an “international crisis” and tweeted a photo of the burning forest, writing: “Our house is burning. Literally.”

The tweet angered the Bolsonaro government, which swiftly denounced his “colonialist mindset”.

The latest official figures show that 1,659 new fires were started between Sunday and Monday, bringing the total this year to 82,285, the highest since at least 2013.

The fires do not just concern Brazil, with at least 10,000 sq km (about 3,800 sq miles) burning in Bolivia.

But Mr Bolsonaro is finding himself increasingly isolated on the global stage over his slow response to the blazes, and thousands have protested in Brazil in recent days to denounce the destruction. 

Since taking office in January, he has taken steps to loosen environmental regulations in Brazil and announced plans to develop the Amazon region for farming and mining, ignoring international concern over increased deforestation.

Last week, Mr Bolsonaro baselessly accused non-profit organisations of deliberately starting the fires after their funding was cut. 

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

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