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Brazilian president says country lacks money to fight Amazon fires
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Brazilian president hits out at criticism over Amazon fires as Macron warns of 'international crisis'
Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's President, has hit out at foreign interference after facing criticism about raging fires in the Amazon. The threat to what some call "the lungs of the planet" has ignited a bitter dispute about who is to blame during the tenure of a leader who has described Brazil's rainforest protections as an obstacle to economic development and who traded Twitter jabs on Thursday with France's president over the fires. French President Emmanuel Macron called the wildfires an international crisis and said the leaders of the Group of 7 nations should hold urgent discussions about them at their summit in France this weekend. "Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest - the lungs which produces 20% of our planet's oxygen - is on fire," Mr Macron tweeted. Mr Bolsonaro fired back with his own tweet: "I regret that Macron seeks to make personal political gains in an internal matter for Brazil and other Amazonian countries. The sensationalist tone he used does nothing to solve the problem." Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest - the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen - is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let's discuss this emergency first order in two days! ActForTheAmazonpic.twitter.com/dogOJj9big— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 22, 2019 Onyx Lorenzoni, the president's chief of staff, earlier in the day accused European countries of exaggerating environmental problems in Brazil in order to disrupt its commercial interests. "There is deforestation in Brazil, yes, but not at the rate and level that they say," said Mr Lorenzoni, according to the Brazilian news website globo.com. His allegation came after Germany and Norway, citing Brazil's apparent lack of commitment to fighting deforestation, decided to withhold more than $60 million in funds earmarked for sustainability projects in Brazilian forests. The debate came as Brazilian federal experts reported a record number of wildfires across the country this year, up 84 percent over the same period in 2018. Satellite images show smoke from the Amazon reaching across the Latin American continent to the Atlantic coast and Sao Paulo, Brazil's biggest city, according to the World Meteorological Organisation. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted: "In the midst of the global climate crisis, we cannot afford more damage to a major source of oxygen and biodiversity. The Amazon must be protected." Federal prosecutors in Brazil's Amazon region launched investigations of increasing deforestation, according to local media. Prosecutors said they plan to probe possible negligence by the national government in the enforcement of environmental codes. Bolivia is also struggling to contain big fires, many believed to have been set by farmers clearing land for cultivation. Mr Bolsonaro said there was a "very strong" indication that some non-governmental groups could be setting blazes in retaliation for losing state funds under his administration. He did not provide any evidence. Brazil's president, who won election last year, also accused media organisations of exploiting the fires to undermine his government. "Most of the media wants Brazil to end up like Venezuela," he said, referring to political and economic turbulence in the neighbouring South American country. This satellite image provided by NASA shows the fires in Brazil  Credit: AP London-based Amnesty International blamed the Brazilian government for the fires, which have escalated international concern over the vast rainforest that is a major absorber of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The rights group this year documented illegal land invasions and arson attacks near indigenous territories in the Amazon, including Rondonia state, where many fires are raging, said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty's secretary general. "Instead of spreading outrageous lies or denying the scale of deforestation taking place, we urge the president to take immediate action to halt the progress of these fires," Naidoo said. The WWF conservation group also challenged Mr Bolsonaro's allegations about NGOs, saying they divert "the focus of attention from what really matters: the well-being of nature and the people of the Amazon." Brazil contains about 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest, whose degradation could have severe consequences for global climate and rainfall. Bolsonaro, who has said he wants to convert land for cattle pastures and soybean farms, won office after channeling outrage over the corruption scandals of the former government. A general view over smoke from fires in teh Amazon rainforest that cover the city of Porto Velho Credit: Rex Filipe Martins, an adviser to Mr Bolsonaro, said on Twitter that the Brazilian government is committed to fighting illegal deforestation and that many other countries are causing environmental damage. The Amazon will be saved by Brazil and not "the empty, hysterical and misleading rhetoric of the mainstream media, transnational bureaucrats and NGOs," Mr Martins said. Sergio Bergman, Argentina's environment minister, appealed for people to overcome political or ideological divisions to protect the environment. He spoke at a five-day U.N. workshop on climate change in Brazil's northern state of Bahia. "We all, in a way, understand that it is not possible to keep using natural resources without limits," Bergman said.
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Brazilian president 'colonial' interference over Amazon fires as Macron warns of global crisis
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro blasted his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron Thursday as having a "colonialist mentality" for rallying G-7 countries to address wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest. "The French president's suggestion that Amazon issues be discussed at the G-7 without participation by the countries in the region evokes a colonialist mentality that is out of place in the 21st century," Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter. Macron is using an issue that is a domestic one for Brazil and other regional countries for personal political gain, Brazil's leader said, calling Macron's tone "sensationalist." Macron tweeted earlier Thursday that fires burning in the Amazon amount to an international crisis and should be discussed as a top priority when the G-7 countries meet this weekend in France. "Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rainforest - the lungs which produce 20 percent of our planet's oxygen - is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let's discuss this emergency first order in two days!" Macron said on Twitter. Bolsonaro noted that Macron's tweet included a photo of a fire in the Amazon that is at least 16 years old and has been seen often in recent days on social media posts about the fires. Mr Bolsonaro fired back with his own tweet: "I regret that Macron seeks to make personal political gains in an internal matter for Brazil and other Amazonian countries. The sensationalist tone he used does nothing to solve the problem." The threat to what some call "the lungs of the planet" has ignited a bitter dispute about who is to blame during the tenure of a leader who has described Brazil's rainforest protections as an obstacle to economic development and who traded Twitter jabs on Thursday with France's president over the fires. Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest - the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen - is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let's discuss this emergency first order in two days! ActForTheAmazonpic.twitter.com/dogOJj9big— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 22, 2019 Onyx Lorenzoni, Mr Bolsonaro's chief of staff, earlier in the day accused European countries of exaggerating environmental problems in Brazil in order to disrupt its commercial interests. "There is deforestation in Brazil, yes, but not at the rate and level that they say," said Mr Lorenzoni, according to the Brazilian news website globo.com. His allegation came after Germany and Norway, citing Brazil's apparent lack of commitment to fighting deforestation, decided to withhold more than $60 million in funds earmarked for sustainability projects in Brazilian forests. The debate came as Brazilian federal experts reported a record number of wildfires across the country this year, up 84 percent over the same period in 2018. Satellite images show smoke from the Amazon reaching across the Latin American continent to the Atlantic coast and Sao Paulo, Brazil's biggest city, according to the World Meteorological Organisation. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted: "In the midst of the global climate crisis, we cannot afford more damage to a major source of oxygen and biodiversity. The Amazon must be protected." Federal prosecutors in Brazil's Amazon region launched investigations of increasing deforestation, according to local media. Prosecutors said they plan to probe possible negligence by the national government in the enforcement of environmental codes. Bolivia is also struggling to contain big fires, many believed to have been set by farmers clearing land for cultivation. Mr Bolsonaro said there was a "very strong" indication that some non-governmental groups could be setting blazes in retaliation for losing state funds under his administration. He did not provide any evidence. Brazil's president, who won election last year, also accused media organisations of exploiting the fires to undermine his government. "Most of the media wants Brazil to end up like Venezuela," he said, referring to political and economic turbulence in the neighbouring South American country. This satellite image provided by NASA shows the fires in Brazil  Credit: AP London-based Amnesty International blamed the Brazilian government for the fires, which have escalated international concern over the vast rainforest that is a major absorber of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The rights group this year documented illegal land invasions and arson attacks near indigenous territories in the Amazon, including Rondonia state, where many fires are raging, said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty's secretary general. "Instead of spreading outrageous lies or denying the scale of deforestation taking place, we urge the president to take immediate action to halt the progress of these fires," Naidoo said. The WWF conservation group also challenged Mr Bolsonaro's allegations about NGOs, saying they divert "the focus of attention from what really matters: the well-being of nature and the people of the Amazon." Brazil contains about 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest, whose degradation could have severe consequences for global climate and rainfall. Bolsonaro, who has said he wants to convert land for cattle pastures and soybean farms, won office after channeling outrage over the corruption scandals of the former government. A general view over smoke from fires in the Amazon rainforest that cover the city of Porto Velho Credit: Rex Filipe Martins, an adviser to Mr Bolsonaro, said on Twitter that the Brazilian government is committed to fighting illegal deforestation and that many other countries are causing environmental damage. The Amazon will be saved by Brazil and not "the empty, hysterical and misleading rhetoric of the mainstream media, transnational bureaucrats and NGOs," Mr Martins said. Sergio Bergman, Argentina's environment minister, appealed for people to overcome political or ideological divisions to protect the environment. He spoke at a five-day U.N. workshop on climate change in Brazil's northern state of Bahia. "We all, in a way, understand that it is not possible to keep using natural resources without limits," Bergman said.
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Amazon fires: Brazilian president accuses Emmanuel Macron of 'colonialist mentality' as French president warns of global crisis
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro blasted his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron Thursday as having a "colonialist mentality" for rallying G-7 countries to address wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest. "The French president's suggestion that Amazon issues be discussed at the G-7 without participation by the countries in the region evokes a colonialist mentality that is out of place in the 21st century," Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter. Macron is using an issue that is a domestic one for Brazil and other regional countries for personal political gain, Brazil's leader said, calling Macron's tone "sensationalist." Macron tweeted earlier Thursday that fires burning in the Amazon amount to an international crisis and should be discussed as a top priority when the G-7 countries meet this weekend in France. "Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rainforest - the lungs which produce 20 percent of our planet's oxygen - is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let's discuss this emergency first order in two days!" Macron said on Twitter. Bolsonaro noted that Macron's tweet included a photo of a fire in the Amazon that is at least 16 years old and has been seen often in recent days on social media posts about the fires. Mr Bolsonaro fired back with his own tweet: "I regret that Macron seeks to make personal political gains in an internal matter for Brazil and other Amazonian countries. The sensationalist tone he used does nothing to solve the problem." The threat to what some call "the lungs of the planet" has ignited a bitter dispute about who is to blame during the tenure of a leader who has described Brazil's rainforest protections as an obstacle to economic development and who traded Twitter jabs on Thursday with France's president over the fires. Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest - the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen - is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let's discuss this emergency first order in two days! ActForTheAmazonpic.twitter.com/dogOJj9big— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 22, 2019 Onyx Lorenzoni, Mr Bolsonaro's chief of staff, earlier in the day accused European countries of exaggerating environmental problems in Brazil in order to disrupt its commercial interests. "There is deforestation in Brazil, yes, but not at the rate and level that they say," said Mr Lorenzoni, according to the Brazilian news website globo.com. His allegation came after Germany and Norway, citing Brazil's apparent lack of commitment to fighting deforestation, decided to withhold more than $60 million in funds earmarked for sustainability projects in Brazilian forests. The debate came as Brazilian federal experts reported a record number of wildfires across the country this year, up 84 percent over the same period in 2018. Satellite images show smoke from the Amazon reaching across the Latin American continent to the Atlantic coast and Sao Paulo, Brazil's biggest city, according to the World Meteorological Organisation. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted: "In the midst of the global climate crisis, we cannot afford more damage to a major source of oxygen and biodiversity. The Amazon must be protected." Smoke billows during a fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest near Humaita, Amazonas State Credit: REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino/File Photo Federal prosecutors in Brazil's Amazon region launched investigations of increasing deforestation, according to local media. Prosecutors said they plan to probe possible negligence by the national government in the enforcement of environmental codes. Bolivia is also struggling to contain big fires, many believed to have been set by farmers clearing land for cultivation. Mr Bolsonaro said there was a "very strong" indication that some non-governmental groups could be setting blazes in retaliation for losing state funds under his administration. He did not provide any evidence. Brazil's president, who won election last year, also accused media organisations of exploiting the fires to undermine his government. "Most of the media wants Brazil to end up like Venezuela," he said, referring to political and economic turbulence in the neighbouring South American country. This satellite image provided by NASA shows the fires in Brazil  Credit: AP London-based Amnesty International blamed the Brazilian government for the fires, which have escalated international concern over the vast rainforest that is a major absorber of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The rights group this year documented illegal land invasions and arson attacks near indigenous territories in the Amazon, including Rondonia state, where many fires are raging, said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty's secretary general. "Instead of spreading outrageous lies or denying the scale of deforestation taking place, we urge the president to take immediate action to halt the progress of these fires," Naidoo said. The WWF conservation group also challenged Mr Bolsonaro's allegations about NGOs, saying they divert "the focus of attention from what really matters: the well-being of nature and the people of the Amazon." Brazil contains about 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest, whose degradation could have severe consequences for global climate and rainfall. Bolsonaro, who has said he wants to convert land for cattle pastures and soybean farms, won office after channeling outrage over the corruption scandals of the former government. A general view over smoke from fires in the Amazon rainforest that cover the city of Porto Velho Credit: Rex Filipe Martins, an adviser to Mr Bolsonaro, said on Twitter that the Brazilian government is committed to fighting illegal deforestation and that many other countries are causing environmental damage. The Amazon will be saved by Brazil and not "the empty, hysterical and misleading rhetoric of the mainstream media, transnational bureaucrats and NGOs," Mr Martins said. Sergio Bergman, Argentina's environment minister, appealed for people to overcome political or ideological divisions to protect the environment. He spoke at a five-day U.N. workshop on climate change in Brazil's northern state of Bahia. "We all, in a way, understand that it is not possible to keep using natural resources without limits," Bergman said.
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Brazilian president says country lacks money to fight Amazon fires
The Brazilian government lacks the resources to fight a record number of wildfires burning in the Amazon rainforest, Jair Bolsonaro, the president, said on Thursday, weeks after telling donors he did not need their money. "The Amazon is bigger than Europe, how will you fight criminal fires in such an area?" he asked reporters as he left the presidential residence. "We do not have the resources for that." Fires in the Amazon have surged 83 per cent so far this year compared to the same period a year earlier, government figures show, destroying vast swathes of a forest considered a vital bulwark against climate change. Although fires are a regular and natural occurrence during the regular dry season at this time of year, environmentalists blamed the sharp rise on farmers setting the forest alight to clear land for pasture. On Wednesday, Mr Bolsonaro said, without supporting evidence, that non-governmental organisations were behind the fires. Questioned again on Thursday about those comments, he said he could not prove that NGOs, for whom he has cut funding, were lighting the fires but that they were "the most likely suspects." The Right-wing president has repeatedly said he believes Brazil should open the Amazon up to business interests, to allow mining and logging companies to exploit its natural resources. "As NGOs lose funding... What can they do?," he asked. "Try to take me down, try to take me down. That's all that's left for them to do." Brazil is facing growing international criticism over its handling of the Amazon, 60 per cent of which lies in the country. Earlier this month, Norway and Germany suspended funding for projects to curb deforestation in Brazil after becoming alarmed by changes to the way projects were selected under Mr Bolsonaro. At the time, when asked about the loss of German funding, Mr Bolsonaro said “Brazil does not need that.” Other officials have expressed concern over the fires. Brazil's lower house speaker, Rodrigo Maia, said on Twitter he would create "an external committee" to monitor the burning of the rainforest. He also vowed to form a group "to evaluate the situation and propose solutions to the government." The Bishops Conference for Latin America expressed concern about what it called "a tragedy," and on Thursday called on countries to take immediate action to protect the rainforest and the communities that live in and around it. "We urge the governments of the Amazon countries, especially Brazil and Bolivia, the United Nations and the international community to take serious measures to save the world's lungs," the Bishops Conference said. "If the Amazon suffers, the world suffers," the statement said.
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