"Our House Is Burning": Emmanuel Macron Causes Controversy Over Amazon Fires

23 August 2019, 10:28

Smoke rises from the forest in a region of the Amazon near the Colombian border. Brazil has the worst forest fires in years.
Smoke rises from the forest in a region of the Amazon near the Colombian border. Brazil has the worst forest fires in years. Picture: PA

French President Emmanuel Macron has been criticised by the Brazilian President for having a "colonialist mindset" as he expressed fears for the burning Amazon rainforest.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has hit back at Mr Macron for suggesting that Amazonian fires should be discussed at the G7.

Emmanuel Macron tweeted: "Our house is burning...It is an international crisis...members of the G7 Summit, let's discuss this emergency first order in two days!"

But Mr Bolsonaro's response was: "The French president's suggestion that Amazonian matters be discussed at the G7 without the involvement of countries of the region recalls the colonialist mindset that is unacceptable in the 21st century.

"I regret that Macron seeks to make personal political gains in an internal matter for Brazil and other Amazonian countries. The sensationalist tone he used does nothing to solve the problem."

Mr Bolsonaro also claimed news organisations had exploited the fires to undermine his government, saying: "Most of the media wants Brazil to end up like Venezuela."

As the largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming.

It produces a fifth of the world's oxygen and about 20% of its fresh water, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

It is also home to about three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous people.

Since January 2019, fires and slash-and-burn in South America's largest country have increased by 83 percent compared to the same period last year.

This satellite image provided by NASA on Aug. 13, 2019 shows several fires burning in the Brazilian Amazon forest.
This satellite image provided by NASA on Aug. 13, 2019 shows several fires burning in the Brazilian Amazon forest. Picture: PA

Brazil's National Institute for Space Research that monitors deforestation and wildfires, said the country has seen a record number of wildfires this year, counting 74,155 as of Tuesday, August 20.

This is an 84 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also said he is "deeply concerned" about the fires in the Amazon.

"In the midst of the global climate crisis, we cannot afford more damage to a major source of oxygen and biodiversity. The Amazon must be protected," he tweeted.

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