Amazon fires: France and Ireland threaten to block European Union trade deal

Daniel Fowler
August 24, 2019

Danicley Aguiar of Greenpeace Brazil said: "Those who destroy the Amazon and let deforestation continue unabated are encouraged in doing so by the Bolsonaro government's actions and policies".

As the fires burned, foreign pressure continued to grow.

"We also know that those fires are sending small particles, particles are trapped inside of the lungs of people living nearby, and those small particles are trapped in the lungs of the people that are exposed to that smoke further away". Life appeared normal in Porto Velho.

Numerous fires are believed to have been set by farmers clearing land.

And on Friday, he expressed hope the G7 would act to ensure speedy reforestation of areas devastated by fire.

"We've seen a massive increase in the number of fires in 2019, and half of these have been in the last 20 days".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the fires were an "acute emergency. shocking and threatening not only for Brazil and the other affected countries, but also for the whole world". He said the situation had stabilized.

But the forest and its inhabitants are facing an unparalleled threat from deforestation - 20% of the Amazon biome has already been lost to mining, logging, farming, hydropower dams and roads, according to the World Wildlife Fund. "I was actually part of the team that helped develop Brazil's deforestation monitoring program with a new satellite that we launched in the early 2000s".

Greenpeace officials in Canada and overseas say G7 leaders wanting to help stop the Amazon rainforest from burning need to look at their own backyards as the place to start. "The carbon then enters the atmosphere as carbon dioxide or methane, where it contributes to the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change, bringing us a warmer and a drier planet".

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Forest fires are not uncommon in the Amazon during the dry season, which runs from July to October, and often begins naturally.

Brazilian federal experts reported a record number of wildfires across the country this year - up 84% over the same period in 2018 - and environmental agencies have pointed the finger at the country's government. Brazil contains about 60% of the Amazon rainforest.

Prosecutors said they would look into an ad that they said was published in a local newspaper encouraging farmers to participate in a "Fire Day", in which they would burn large areas of the forest "to show Bolsonaro their willingness to work". Trump tweeted on Friday.

French President Emmanuel Macron has angered his Brazilian counterpart by calling the wildfires blazing in the Amazon rainforest an "international crisis" that should be on the agenda at the G7 summit in Biarritz. The fires have spread a vast plume of smoke across South America and the Atlantic Ocean that's visible from space.

Ahead of a Group of Seven summit in France this weekend, Macron's office questioned Bolsonaro's trustworthiness.

Brazil was unlikely to ask for fire-fighting assistance, given how conservative Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has bristled over Macron's intervention.

France would now block a trade deal between the European Union and the South American trade bloc Mercosur, which includes Brazil, a French presidential official said.

He also said the government lacks the resources to monitor or combat any groups that may be setting the fires.

Argentina, which is struggling with rising poverty and austerity measures, has offered to send emergency workers to Brazil and Bolivia to help battle the fires.

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