The Group of Seven (G7) has been slammed for stumping up a US$20 million (A$29.5 million) fund to assist in Brazil’s urgent battle against fires in the Amazon, with critics saying that dollar figure represents a literal drop in the bucket.
The G7, comprising representatives from some of world’s top economies, came to the agreement at the group’s ongoing summit in Biarritz, France.
In a communique released overnight, French President Emmanuel Macron announced France, Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States will provide funds to address the “international crisis”.
“We must respond to the call of the forest which is burning today in the Amazon,” Macron added.
The funds will be used to deploy firefighters and water-bombing aircraft across fire-ravaged areas of Brazil, with a “second phase” aimed at protecting biodiversity and promoting reforestation in the region.
Despite the dire warnings about the fires’ impact – the Amazon jungle is crucial to oxygen production on Earth, and carbon emitted from the burning trees will only serve to exacerbate global warming – the fund has been met with opposition.
The first roadblock is Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro himself. The far-right leader, who effectively sanctioned the man-made fires by permitting industry in previously protected areas of the Amazon, has lashed out at international criticism of his leadership.
Taking to Twitter after hearing news of the fund, Bolsonaro said the G7’s plan patronised Brazil “as if we were a colony or no man’s land.”
– Não podemos aceitar que um presidente, Macron, dispare ataques descabidos e gratuitos à Amazônia, nem que disfarce suas intenções atrás da ideia de uma "aliança" dos países do G-7 para "salvar" a Amazônia, como se fôssemos uma colônia ou uma terra de ninguém.— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) August 26, 2019
Globo newspaper now reports Brazil has rejected the offer. Bolsonaro’s chief of staff Onyx Lorenzoni effectively told the outlet “Macron cannot even prevent a predictable fire in a church that is a World Heritage Site and wants to teach us what to do in our country.”
The other side of the criticism comes from folks who do want an international intervention, but believe the fund should be much more significant
While USD$20 million represents a life-changing sum for most people, it pales in comparison to the funds expended on other government projects. For context, the Victorian State Government has pledged A$89 million to remove a single level crossing in Melbourne.
Other critics bubbling about have likened the fund to other expenses.
1 billion dollars was given to rebuild Notre Dame. 20 million is being given to save the earth. https://t.co/sHigibAolJ— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) August 26, 2019
The wealthiest countries in the world got together and decided saving the goddamn Amazon is worth less than what it cost for them to have their summit. Drank some tea and threw Terry Rozier's salary at the fuckin rainforest https://t.co/1p4jy4sT0e— sreekar (@sreekyshooter) August 26, 2019
lol Steph Curry could match the Amazon fire relief money and still make almost $30 million this year— The Trillbillies “Deeply, Deeply Diseased” (@thetrillbillies) August 26, 2019
Just for reference, "Boss Baby" cost $200 million https://t.co/7wBMXI3GmC— hussein kesvani (@HKesvani) August 26, 2019
It’s worth mentioning at this point that Leonardo DiCaprio pledged a cool USD$5 million (A$7.4 million) to combat the fires.
As for Australia: Prime Minister Scott Morrison says we’re staying out of it.