World

EU issues warning to Brazil over Amazon fires

A boy holds a poster "the Amazon is on fire" (El Amazonas est en llamas in Spanish) during the 'S.O.S Amazonia' protest in response to Amazon rainforest fires. Source: Getty

A trade deal with South America could be at risk if Brazil does not take appropriate action to deal with a record number of fires in the Amazon.

European leaders have threatened to tear up a trade deal with South America, reflecting the growing international dismay and anger with Brazil as a record number of fires in the Amazon rainforest intensify an unfolding environmental crisis.

Against the global chorus of condemnation, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he is mobilising the army to help combat the blazes, while his administration launched a diplomatic charm offensive to try to mend bridges.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro.
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro.
NurPhoto

The Trump administration said it was "deeply concerned" about the wildfires, which now look set to be discussed at a summit of G7 leaders in France this weekend.

French President Emmanuel Macron's office went so far as to accuse Bolsonaro of lying when he downplayed concerns over climate change at the G20 summit in June.

France and Ireland on Friday said they would now oppose the EU-Mercosur farming deal struck in June between the European Union and the Mercosur countries of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

"There is no way that Ireland will vote for the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement if Brazil does not honour its environmental commitments," Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in a statement.

Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.
Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.
AFP

The EU-Mercosur deal took 20 years to negotiate, but will not be officially ratified for another two years.

Brazilian Business leaders also warned the backlash over Brazil's environmental record could sink its efforts to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a Paris-based club of 37 developed nations whose imprimatur is required by many institutional investors.

Stung by the international outcry, Bolsonaro signed off on sending in the Brazilian army to fight fires, Antonio Denarium, governor of the Amazon state of Roraima, said on Friday.

Brazil also distributed a 12-page circular to foreign embassies, outlining data and statistics defending the government's reputation on the environment.

Aerial picture showing smoke from a two-kilometre-long stretch of fire billowing from the Amazon rainforest.
Aerial picture showing smoke from a two-kilometre-long stretch of fire billowing from the Amazon rainforest.
AFP

Bolsonaro met with a team of senior officials on Friday afternoon, including the defense and environment ministers as well as the foreign minister, to hammer out a response to the crisis.

Forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon, which accounts for more than half of the world's largest rainforest, have surged 83 per cent in number this year, according to government data, destroying vast swathes of a vital bulwark against global climate change.

The government agency INPE has registered 72,843 fires, the highest number since records began in 2013. More than 9,500 have been spotted by satellites over the past week.

Environmentalists blame the jump on farmers clearing land for pasture.

Farmers may have had at least tacit encouragement from the firebrand right-wing president, who took power in January.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly said he believes Brazil should open up the Amazon to business interests, allowing mining, agricultural and logging companies to exploit its natural resources.

· European leaders have threatened to tear up a trade deal with South America, reflecting the growing international dismay and anger with Brazil as a record number of fires in the Amazon rainforest intensify an unfolding environmental crisis.

Against the global chorus of condemnation, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he is mobilising the army to help combat the blazes, while his administration launched a diplomatic charm offensive to try to mend bridges.

The Trump administration said it was "deeply concerned" about the wildfires, which now look set to be discussed at a summit of G7 leaders in France this weekend.

French President Emmanuel Macron's office went so far as to accuse Bolsonaro of lying when he downplayed concerns over climate change at the G20 summit in June.

French President Emmanuel Macron.
French President Emmanuel Macron.
AFP

France and Ireland on Friday said they would now oppose the EU-Mercosur farming deal struck in June between the European Union and the Mercosur countries of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

"There is no way that Ireland will vote for the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement if Brazil does not honour its environmental commitments," Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in a statement.

The EU-Mercosur deal took 20 years to negotiate, but will not be officially ratified for another two years.

Brazilian Business leaders also warned the backlash over Brazil's environmental record could sink its efforts to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a Paris-based club of 37 developed nations whose imprimatur is required by many institutional investors.

Stung by the international outcry, Bolsonaro signed off on sending in the Brazilian army to fight fires, Antonio Denarium, governor of the Amazon state of Roraima, said on Friday.

Brazil also distributed a 12-page circular to foreign embassies, outlining data and statistics defending the government's reputation on the environment.

Bolsonaro met with a team of senior officials on Friday afternoon, including the defense and environment ministers as well as the foreign minister, to hammer out a response to the crisis.

Forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon, which accounts for more than half of the world's largest rainforest, have surged 83 per cent in number this year, according to government data, destroying vast swathes of a vital bulwark against global climate change.

The government agency INPE has registered 72,843 fires, the highest number since records began in 2013. More than 9,500 have been spotted by satellites over the past week.

Environmentalists blame the jump on farmers clearing land for pasture.

Farmers may have had at least tacit encouragement from the firebrand right-wing president, who took power in January.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly said he believes Brazil should open up the Amazon to business interests, allowing mining, agricultural and logging companies to exploit its natural resources.

Source AAP - SBS

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