Brazil president to reconsider $20m Amazon fire aid, provided Macron apologies for 'insults'
Having originally rejected the $20m (£16m) international climate aid pledged offered at the G7 summit, Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro has announced he could reconsider the offer, but only if French President Emmanuel Macron apologies for "insulting" him.
At the G7 In Biarritz on Monday (26 August) a $20m international aid pledge to combat the fires in the Amazon, the most of which would be spent on paying for more firefighting plane, was agreed by world leaders.
At the time of writing, Brazil looks set to reject the $20m in international aid pledged by the G7 nations to combat the fires that are devastating the Amazon rainforest, with President Bolsonaro saying he would reconsider if French President Emmanuel Macron apologies for “insulting” him.
According to news site G1 Globo, Onyx Lorenzoni, Brazil’s the chief of staff of President Jair Bolsonaro, claimed that the country would reject the $20m pledged by G7 nations, claiming that the aid should instead be used to reforest Europe.
However, it was reported by Reuters on Tuesday afternoon (27 September) that Bolsonaro may reconsider the aid, if French President Emmanuel Macron apologises for insults aimed at the South American leader.
Macron had labelled comments by Bolsonaro as "extremely disrespectful" after the Brazilian took to Facebook to apparently mock the Frenchman’s wife Brigitte Macron. In response, Bolsonaro has called for Macron to apologise, presumably for his comments that Brazilian’s would be “a bit ashamed of [Balsonaro’s] behaviour”.
“First of all, Macron has to withdraw his insults. He called me a liar. Before we talk or accept anything from France ... he must withdraw these words then we can talk,” Bolsonaro said, according to Reuters. “First, he withdraws, then offers (aid), then I will answer.”
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) states that there has been a total of 72,843 fires in Brazil this year and more than 1.5 football fields of Amazon rainforest are being destroyed per minute, per day – an increase of 80% compared to the same period the year prior.
In light of those findings, campaigners have labelled the $20m sum as “chump change”.
"The offer of $20m is chump change, especially as the crisis in the Amazon is directly linked to overconsumption of meat and dairy in the UK and other G7 countries," said Richard George, the head of forests for Greenpeace UK.
UK Primer Minister Boris Johnson used the Summit to call for more ambitious action to combat climate change, pledging £10m from the UK to help mitigate the Amazon fires.
"In a week where we have all watched, horrified, as the Amazon rainforest burns before our eyes, we cannot escape the reality of the damage we are inflicting on the natural world," Johnson said.
"The planet faces two immense threats: Climate change and biodiversity loss. These are two sides of the same coin - it is impossible to solve one challenge without fixing the other."
However, the Labour party were quick to criticise the small sum set aside by Johnson, as well as criticising the Prime Minister for failing to rule out any trade deals that involved meat raised on land that was created by burning the rainforest.
"The truth is that £10m is an embarrassingly tiny contribution to deal with the situation in the Amazon which is part of the sustained anti-environment campaign being waged by a right-wing Brazilian government," said the party's Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade and Shadow Minister for International Climate Change Barry Gardiner.
"Boris Johnson's government has pointedly refused to ensure that UK companies are not aiding and abetting the destruction of the Amazon by ruling out from any trade deal beef raised on rainforest land burnt out by ranchers."
The £10m offer comes as the UK’s Green Climate Fund has agreed to double spending on international climate aid to £1.4bn.