Bolsonaro’s environmental policies ‘to blame for Amazon fires’

23 Aug 19

Activists have blamed Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro for the fires raging in the Amazon rainforest.

The first eight months of 2019 have had more fires than in any year since 2013, and 84% more than in 2018, according to official statistics.

Observatorio do Clima, a coalition of Brazilian civil organisations against climate change, laid the blame squarely at the feet of the government.

The group said in a statement: “Burning is just the most visible symptom of the environmental anti-politics of the government of Jair Bolsonaro and its environment minister, Ricardo Salles, who has boosted the deforestation rate over the past year.

“The fire reflects the president's irresponsibility with the ecosystem – the heritage of all Brazilians, with the health of the Amazonian population and with the climate of the planet, whose changes fuel and destroy the forest in a vicious circle.”

Bolsonaro also drew criticism earlier this month when he sacked the director of Brazil’s National Space Research Institute, after he said satellite data showed a rise in Amazon deforestation.

French president Emmanuel Macron warned that “our house is burning”, and said the G7 should discuss the matter when it meets over the weekend.

Bolsonaro tweeted that Macron’s suggestion “evokes a misplaced colonialist mindset”.

Salles said the government has verified both intentional and accidental fires, promising those responsible for intentional fires will be “harshly punished”.

He said there have not been any cuts to the fire services, but a dry, warm, windy climate was giving the outbreaks “greater speed”.

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