Even the “chump change” was rejected. One of the few concrete measures to come out of the August 2019 G7 meeting in France was the offer of funds to Amazonian countries to fight forest fires. Environmental campaigners had labelled the €20 million offer “chump change” (particularly when compared to over €1 billion given after the Notre Dame cathedral blaze). Brazil, however, has rejected the offer.
Several EU Member States, including France, Germany, Ireland, and Luxembourg, have threatened to block an EU trade deal with South American countries in the Mercosur trade bloc (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) over the issue. Relations between Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and French President Emmanuel Macron, in particular, have hit a low point.
How bad is the problem? There has been an 80% increase in fires in the Amazon since 2018, and this year has seen the highest number of fires in a decade. However, 2019 is not the worst year on record, and the number of fires in the early-2000s was even higher. Nevertheless, deforestation in the Amazon (which includes clearing land and burning dead trees to fertilise the soil for farmland) has accelerated dramatically under Bolsonaro.
Is there anything Europe can do about it? Exchanging threats and insults doesn’t seem to be having an effect. Some have pointed out that EU countries are among the top consumers of Brazilian beef in the world, so it is hypocritical to put all the onus on Brazil to change its behaviour.
Should Europe put more pressure on Brazil over the Amazon fires? Or are European countries acting with a “colonialist” mentality? Was the offer of €20 million to fight Amazon fires just “chump change”? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll talk to policmakers and experts for their reactions!