- France and Ireland have threatened to halt the ratification of a huge trade agreement with South American countries unless Brazil does more to combat the Amazon fires.
- US President Donald Trump said he spoke by telephone to President Bolsonaro and told him the United States was ready to help.
- Environmental activists accuse Bolsonaro of encouraging farmers to cut down trees and clear rainforests, and say the fires are linked to Bolsonaro's policies.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced Friday evening that he will deploy a number of members of the armed forces to cope with the huge number of fires that swept the Amazon jungle. “Forest fires can occur in any country and should not be used as an excuse for international sanctions,” he said in a televised address.
The soldiers are scheduled to be sent to nature reserves, indigenous lands and border areas. Bolsonaro’s announcement came after intense pressure from European leaders who threatened to cancel a major trade deal with South America’s main bloc, Mercosur, over Bolsonaro’s environmental stance.
US President Donald Trump said he spoke by telephone to President Bolsonaro, and told him the United States was ready to help. France and Ireland have threatened to halt the ratification of a huge trade agreement with South American countries unless Brazil does more to combat the Amazon fire.
“President Jair Bolsonaro lied to him about his position on climate change,” French President Emmanuel Macron said. The G7 agreed to include the issue at its weekend meeting in France.
Environmental activists accuse Bolsonaro of encouraging farmers to cut down trees and clear rainforests, and say the fires are linked to Bolsonaro’s policies. There are currently many fires in the rain forests of the Amazon basin, an important source of oxygen in the world. Other European leaders have expressed fears of fires.
Amazon forest is burning – who is responsible?
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “very concerned” about the potentially catastrophic impact about the loss of a large number of trees on the environment. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the fires a “serious emergency,” and their impact would go far beyond Brazil to cover the entire world.
Macron and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar say they will not ratify the trade pact unless Brazil shows a commitment to protecting the environment.
The trade agreement between the EU and the South American bloc of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay was reached after 20 years of negotiations. It is described as the largest agreement signed by the European Union so far, and will reduce or cancel trade fees between the two parties.
The agreement will enable European industrial companies to access the markets of these countries with their industrial products, including automobiles.
Brazil has seen a record level of fires this year, according to data from the Brazilian Space Agency.
According to the National Institute of Space Research in Brazil, data from its satellite indicate an 85 percent increase in fire rates, compared to the same period last year.
According to official data, more than 75,000 forest fires were detected in Brazil in the first eight months of this year— the highest number since 2013. The number of fires recorded in the same period last year did not exceed 40,000.
Fires are common in the Amazon forests in the dry season, which runs from July to October. Fires can be sparked by nature, as in lightning strikes, but they can also be triggered by farmers and loggers who dispose of firewood to prepare the land for new crops or grazing.