The Brazilian government has rejected an offer of £18 million in aid from the G7 countries to fight wildfires destroying the Amazon rainforest.
On 26 August, world leaders at the summit in Biarritz, France, said the aid would go towards the battle against thousands of harmful blazes.
Nearly 80,000 forest fires have broken out in Brazil since the beginning of the year – just over half of them in the massive Amazon basin that regulates part of Earth’s carbon cycle and climate.
But instead of accepting the funding, Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro rejected it and told French President Emmanuel Macron to take care of ‘his home and his colonies’ instead.
G7 countries made the £18 million ($20 million) offer to fight the raging fires at the summit hosted by Macron, who insisted they should be discussed as a top priority. It sparked a backlash from Bolsonaro, who mocked the French leader over the Notre Dame inferno and made offensive comments about his wife, Brigitte.
Then Onyx Lorenzoni, chief of staff to President Bolsonaro, told the G1 news website: ‘We appreciate (the offer), but maybe those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe.
‘Macron cannot even avoid a foreseeable fire in a church that is a world heritage site. What does he intend to teach our country?
‘Brazil is a democratic, free nation that never had colonialist and imperialist practices, as perhaps is the objective of the Frenchman Macron.’
The presidency later confirmed the comments to AFP. Brazilian environment Minister Ricardo Salles had earlier told reporters they had welcomed the G7 funding to fight the fires that have swept across 2.3 million acres and prompted the deployment of the army.
But after a meeting between Bolsonaro and his ministers, the Brazilian government changed course. Hundreds of new fires have flared up in the Brazilian part of the forest, data showed, even as military aircraft dumped water over hard-hit areas.
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