Brazil rejected aid from G7 countries to fight wildfires in the Amazon, with a top official telling French President Emmanuel Macron to take care of "his home and his colonies."
More than 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. G7 countries made the $20 million aid offer to fight the blazes at the Biarritz summit hosted by Macron, who insisted they should be discussed as a top priority. The international pledges came despite tensions between European countries and President Jair Bolsonaro, who has accused rich countries of treating the region like a "colony" and suggested the West is angling to exploit Brazil's natural resources.
"We appreciate [the offer], but maybe those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe," Onyx Lorenzoni, chief of staff to President Bolsonaro, told the G1 news website. "Macron cannot even avoid a foreseeable fire in a church that is a world heritage site," he added, referring to the fire in April that devastated the Notre Dame Cathedral. "What does he intend to teach our country?"
About 60% of the Amazon region is in Brazil, although the vast forest also spans parts of Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru and Suriname. The Amazon's rainforests are a major absorber of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and described by environmentalists as a critical defense against climate change.
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