Political storm over rainforest devastation as Bolsonaro’s Minister of Environment attends summit

SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras





Brazilian minister booed at climate event as outcry grows over Amazon fires



The environment minister of Brazil, where wildfires have been sweeping the Amazon rainforest, was booed at a climate event on Wednesday as celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio and Ariana Grande joined an international chorus of criticism.

Videos of Ricardo Salles being booed by demonstrators as he took to the stage at Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week in the north-eastern city of Salvador circulated widely in Brazil. An opposition senator is planning to seek his impeachment at Brazil’s supreme court.

On Wednesday, the far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, suggested NGOs were to blame for the surge in rainforest blazes because they lost money under his administration – but provided no evidence for his claim.

Salles flew over fires in the Amazon state of Mato Grosso – an agricultural powerhouse – on Wednesday, and told reporters that some of the fires were “intentional” and others “incidental”.

“It is drier, warmer, with more wind, and this allows a greater spread,” Salles said, according to the O Globo newspaper.

Analysts said the Amazon has become a political problem for Bolsonaro, who wants to develop the rainforest and has told foreigners to mind their own business.

“A perfect fire, rather than a perfect storm, is forming,” said Marcus Melo, a professor of political science at the Federal University of Pernambuco. “These are important political losses.”

Ricardo Salles is booed at the opening session of the Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week.
Ricardo Salles is booed at the opening session of the Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week. Photograph: STR/EPA

Nasa tweeted photos of smoke and fires over several Amazon states, saying that while blazes are common in these drier, winter months, “the number of fires may be record-setting”. Fires are up by more than 80% so far compared with last year, according to Brazil’s space research institute.

Environmentalists blame Bolsonaro’s attack on environmental protection agencies and plans to develop protected indigenous reserves for inflaming deforestation. The Folha de São Paulo newspaper reported that in some regions farmers emboldened by Bolsonaro’s rhetoric planned “fire days” to burn pasture and areas being deforested.

More than three million people liked a photo of burning forest that Leonardo DiCaprio shared on his Instagram feed.

“Terrifying to think that the Amazon … has been on fire and burning for the last 16 days running, with literally no media coverage whatsoever! Why?” he posted. “The largest rainforest in the world is on fire,” Ariana Grande posted on her Instagram story. She also criticised the perceived lack of media attention.

Leading figures in the agribusiness sector, which is key to Bolsonaro’s support and represents nearly a quarter of Brazil’s GDP, warned that outrage over his environmental policies would hurt exports and could scupper a trade deal between the South American trade block Mercosur and the European Union.

An Amazon rainforest fire near Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil.
An Amazon rainforest fire near Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

“We are paying a very high price,” the former agriculture minister and soybean baron Blairo Maggi told business daily Valor recently.

“Agribusiness sectors who know that this [rising deforestation] is going to create problems for market access, for product price, are beginning to mobilise,” Marcello Brito, the president of the Brazilian Agrobusiness Association, told Valor on Wednesday.

Melo, the political scientist, said an unusual “arc of alliance” was forming between agribusiness and environmentalists.

But Bolsonaro and his ministers are unlikely to change tack until the real economic consequences of their assault on the rainforest become apparent, said Paulo Baía, a professor of political science at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Instead they will double down on nationalist rhetoric. “They are doing what they want for the public that supports them,” he said.




By: Dom Phillips

Source: The Guardian




Mariana Almeida

Arno Ambrosius

David Dunham

Gustavo López Ospina

Gertjan Storm

Editor: Pieter Jan Brouwer


Amazon Pink Dolphin” is the official blog of SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras. The intention of the blog is to generate debate on environmental issues; the Amazon Rain forest in particular. Contributions and support are done on a voluntary basis and do not imply institutional affiliation.  Similarly opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the official position of SVSF.

All Title photographs of the Amazon Pink fresh water Dolphin are the creation of Kevin Schafer.

~ by SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras on 22 August, 2019.

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