Level 1: Elementary
World leaders have promised tens of millions of dollars to help South American countries fight wildfires burning in the Amazon rainforest.Leaders of seven industrial countries offered $20 million on Monday at the G7 meetings in France. The Associated Press reported that Canada’s prime minister separately offered $11 million in aid and to send firefighting airplanes to Brazil. It is unclear how exactly the money would be spent.
Brazil’s environment minister said the aid was welcome and that his government should decide how the resources would be used.Earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera spoke to reporters at the G7 meetings. Pinera was a visitor to the summit.
The two leaders likened the Amazon to the “lungs” of the planet. They noted how the rainforest takes in carbon dioxide gas and creates oxygen.Macron said France will provide military support to fight the fires. He had threatened to block a European Union trade deal with Latin American countries unless Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took serious steps to fight the fires.
In the past, Bolsonaro has questioned the science behind the idea of climate change. Under pressure from other countries to protect the rainforest, the Brazilian leader on Sunday sent two C-130 Hercules aircraft to help put out the fires.Macron said the United States supported the aid offer to the South American countries. However, U.S. President Donald Trump did not attend the G7 meetings on the environment.
In 2019, more than 75,000 fires have been reported in the Amazon, with many of them starting in the past month. Some observers have accused farmers of setting the fires to clear lands for farming.At first, Bolsonaro said the fires were not a problem. He then questioned if environmental groups might have started the fires in an effort to damage the standing of his government. Bolsonaro has called for an easing of environmental rules in the world’s largest rainforest to increase development.
Thousands of people have demonstrated in cities across Brazil and around Brazilian embassies around the world. The hashtag #PrayforAmazonia has become a trending topic on social media.