Bulletin
Investor Alert
×

Aug. 23, 2019, 9:18 a.m. EDT

Brazil says it’s lacking resources to fight Amazon fire as Europe’s leaders urge a G-7 response

‘Our house is burning,’ says France’s Macron, urging Group of 7 leadership response this weekend for the lungs of the planet

new
Watchlist Relevance
LEARN MORE

Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist?

Just add items to create a watchlist now:

or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In

By Rachel Koning Beals


AFP/Getty Images
Jair Bolsonaro’s defiance comes as Brazilian federal experts reported a record number of wildfires across the country this year, up 84% over the same period in 2018.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, under attack from around the world as the Amazon rainforest burns, said his country can’t put up the resources to fight the devastating fires.

French and German leaders, meanwhile, say the record number of fires in Brazil’s Amazon is an international crisis that must be given some priority at this weekend’s already scheduled Group of Seven summit for the globe’s economic powers.

“Our house is burning,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.

Read: France’s Macron, soccer stars unite against Amazon fires

Bolsonaro said the government couldn’t simply get the ministry of the interior to send 40 men to fight a fire. “Forty men to fight a fire? There aren’t the resources. This chaos has arrived,” he said, according to a report from BBC .

The growing threat to what some call “the lungs of the planet” has ignited a bitter dispute about who is to blame during the tenure of a leader who described Brazil’s rainforest protections as an obstacle to economic development. Environmental groups point to farmers, ranchers and foresters starting intentional and unintentional fires, all during the dry season.

Bolsonaro’s defiance came as Brazilian federal experts reported a record number of wildfires across the country this year, up 84% over the same period in 2018, as tracked from satellite imagery.

Brazil’s leadership on Thursday said it was the target of a smear campaign by critics who contend Bolsonaro is not doing enough to curb widespread deforestation, and is actually encouraging increased development. At one point, the administration blamed non-profits for starting the fires in retaliation for funding cuts.

The devastation to the ecosystem that accounts for 20% of global oxygen creation, has raised the calls for support and a collective industrial economy response, mostly from Europe so far.

“The ongoing forest fires in the #AmazonRainForest are deeply worrying. We are in touch with the Brazilian and Bolivian authorities, and stand ready to assist in any way we can – for example by activating our @CopernicusEU satellite mapping systems,” the European Commission, said in a tweet.

About 99% of the fires result from human actions “either on purpose or by accident,” Alberto Setzer, a senior scientist at INPE, Brazil’s space research center, which is using satellite photography to track the fires, told CNN. The burning can range from a small-scale agricultural practice, to new deforestation for a mechanized and modern agribusiness project, Setzer told CNN.

Read: The reportedly record number of Amazon rainforest fires can be seen from space

The country’s environmental minister, Ricardo Salles, tweeted on Wednesday that the fires were caused by dry weather, wind, and heat. But CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said the fires are “definitely human-induced,” and can’t be attributed to natural causes like lightning strikes.

Onyx Lorenzoni, the president’s chief of staff, accused European countries of exaggerating environmental problems in Brazil in order to disrupt its commercial interests.

“There is deforestation in Brazil, yes, but not at the rate and level that they say,” said Lorenzoni, according to Brazilian news website globo.com.

Rachel Koning Beals is a MarketWatch news editor in Chicago.

This Story has 0 Comments
Be the first to comment
More News In
Economy & Politics

Story Conversation

Commenting FAQs »
Link to MarketWatch's Slice.