France and Ireland on Friday piled up pressure on Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro over the wildfires raging through the Amazon rainforest, and said they could block a trade deal with South America, Reuters reported.
French President Emmanuel Macron took to Twitter to call for action from the G-7 nations ahead of their summit in Biarritz, France, this weekend. “Our house is burning. Literally,” he said. “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 G-7 Summit, let’s discuss this emergency.”
Macron’s office said the Brazilian president had lied to him about his commitments to climate change at the G20 summit in Japan in June and that, in this light, France would oppose the Mercosur treaty.
However, Bolsonaro in a tweet accused Macron of using the “internal issue of Brazil and other Amazonian countries” for personal political gain. He also alleged that his French counterpart had used sensationalism and fake photographs to raise attention to the matter. “The Brazilian Government remains open to dialogue, based on objective data and mutual respect,” Bolsonaro added. “The French President’s suggestion that Amazonian issues be discussed at the G-7 without the participation of the countries of the region evokes a misplaced colonialist mindset in the 21st century.”
Bolsonaro on Thursday admitted that farmers could be illegally setting the rainforest ablaze as international criticism mounted, but asked foreign powers not to interfere in the matter.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Dublin would also vote against the deal unless Brazil acted to protect the rainforest. He said was very concerned about the record levels of rainforest destruction, and that the Irish government would closely monitor Bolsonaro’s environmental actions in the two years until the Mercosur deal was ratified.
In a statement, Varadkar said: “There is no way that Ireland will vote for the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement if Brazil does not honour its environmental commitments.”
“This is the best way to create legally binding commitments with countries that we want to respect our environmental standards,” said European Commission spokesperson Mina Andreeva. “The best tool that we have is the EU-Mercosur agreement.”
Finland, which presently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said the fires were “a threat to our whole planet, not just to Brazil or South America”.
Leaders of the most advanced world economies are also expected to take up matter when they meet for the G7 summit in France.
International attention has been drawn to the crisis in the Amazon rainforest since Brazil’s space research center INPE said there has been an estimated 83% increase in forest fires in the Amazon compared to the same time period in 2018. The rainforest – known as the world’s lungs – produces a fifth of the world’s oxygen, comprises at least 40% of Earth’s rainforests, and is home to three million species of plants and animals, and indigenous people. Preserving it is critical to the fight against global warming.
The fires in Amazon were reportedly connected to the president’s rollback of environmental protections of the rainforest.
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