Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, has refused to accept the pledge of £18m ($22m) from G7 countries. Bolsonaro accused French President Emmanuel Macron of treating Brazil as a European colony. While Brazil offered no explicit reason for refusing the funds, the rivalry between Bolsonaro and French President Emmanuel Macron has hit a personal note.
Macron brought up the topic of the wildfires raging in the Amazon. Macron described the situation as an international crisis and not the country's internal matter. The Amazon is considered to be the lungs of the earth, as the trees of the Amazon help produce about 20% of the world's oxygen. Losing the forest would be a global catastrophe.
US President Donald Trump refused to entertain discussions about the fate of Brazil in the absence of Brazilian representation. However, the countries did agree upon pledging monetary support for Brazil. The US, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Britain and Canada have jointly pledged £18m($22m). Britain and Canada have separately pledged £10m($12m) and £9m($11m) respectively. Macron also pledged military support from France to aid the firefighting and rescue efforts. The funds would be made available to Brazil immediately.
However, Brazil has refused the joint aid offered by the G7 summit. Bolsonaro's chief-of-staff Onyx Lorenzoni hinted that the G7 countries' offer was more for their benefit than that Brazil. According to G1 news website, Lorenzoni also mocked Macron for not being able to prevent the Notre Dame fire. Attacks on Macron have become personal as Bolsonaro encouraged social media trolls to make fun of the French first-lady. While Macron has not responded to the Notre Dame jab, he has said stern words in retaliation to the sexist comments.
Bolsonaro's failure to mitigate the fires have dropped his approval ratings. The Brazilian president is also under international pressure from other countries. Unless the president takes steps to alleviate the rain forest fire, France and Ireland have threatened to sever or lessen trade ties.
Wildfires have been ravaging the Amazon since January this year. Every year, the forest witnesses wildfires. However, this year, the number of fires and the extent of damage has skyrocketed. The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) shared updated satellite images of the fires decimating the Amazon forest.
The Amazon rainforest is spread over Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, and Suriname. Approximately 60% of the forest is in Brazil. It is mainly the Brazilian Amazon forest which is suffering from the fires.
Under Bolsonaro, the logging industry received a favourable push. The INPE confirmed that the fires are not natural. It could be farmers trying to create more farmland or loggers who are orchestrating the growing number of fires. Bolsonaro tried to blame environmental activists for staging the fires. Such claims and the ineffective firefighting efforts have turned national and international opinion against the president. Refusing the G7 aid spells worse news for the burning forest.