$22 Million has been rejected by the Brazilian government, despite public outcry over the wildfires currently ravaging the Amazon rainforest.
A far-right climate denier, the country’s president Jar Bolsonaro, initially rejected financial aid from the G7 nations. Though he also previously claimed that Brazil did not have the necessary resources to adequately deal with the fires.
Now, it seems clear that Bolsonaro’s feud with French president Emmanuel Macron has taken precedence over inhibiting the rainforest’s destruction.
The Brazilian president may allegedly be open to accepting the initial offer – but only if he first receives an apology from Macron.
Squabbling While the Amazon Burns
Several nations have agreed that the Amazon fires constitute a global crisis. However, after Macron first announced the aid package during the G7 summit, Bolsonaro fired back angrily on Twitter. Feuding between the two ensued.
Onyx Lorenzoni, Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, also essentially told Brazilian news outlet Globo, “Thanks,” but no thanks. “Maybe those resources would be more relevant to reforest Europe,” he added.
Tuesday morning, however, Bolsonaro seemed to walk back the confirmation of rejection. Outside his residence, he asked reporters: “Did I say that? Did I? Did Jair Bolsonaro speak?”
Bolsonaro then added that if Macron were to withdraw his insults, he would then respond to the offer.
The Rainforest’s Importance
The Amazon rainforest plays a significant role in the planet’s ecosystem. It absorbs a large share of carbon dioxide and provides a much-needed habitat for many endangered species. It is also home to native and Indigenous peoples.
The aid pledged by G7 leaders would bolster existing military fire-fighting operations. And it would also be readily welcomed by the State of Amazonas, which is, by area, the largest state in Brazil.
Eduardo Taveria, the state’s environmental secretary, has said that they are struggling to effectively fight the blaze due to a lack of resources. Bolsonaro, however, is more concerned with perceived attacks on Brazilian sovereignty.
As it stands, the Brazilian government has already endangered several relationships with European countries that helped bankroll environmental protection efforts.
Germany and Norway have suspended their contributions to the Amazon Fund, which was established to help preserve the rainforest. Over the last ten years, Germany had contributed $68 million; Norway had supported the efforts with $1.2 billion in donations.
Both countries are discontinuing their support amid doubts regarding Brazil’s conservation efforts. In addition to losing international aid, Brazil also cut the budget for Ibama, their primary environmental agency, by 25%.