Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has rebutted European criticism over his commitment to the environment, saying he'd flown over Europe twice and hadn't seen “even a square kilometre of forest.”
They have no authority to discuss the environmental issue with us, Bolsonaro said during a Thursday breakfast with rural MPs at the palace of Planalto.
His comments came two days after French President Emmanuel Macron threatened to boycott a recently signed free trade agreement between Mercosur and the European Union if Brazil abandoned the Paris climate accord and his environment minister said the South American country must respect its commitments to protecting the Amazon rainforest.
Bolsonaro dismissed a proposal by Macron to have a joint meeting with Raoni, an indigenous leader of the Amazon known for defending indigenous peoples' rights.
I gave him a resounding no. I do not recognize him as an authority. Raoni is a citizen like any other, Bolsonaro said.
European criticism comes amid ongoing questions from members of Bolsonaro's administration over the effectiveness of the Amazon Fund, which was created in 2008 to contain deforestation.
In June, deforestation in the Amazon grew by 88% compared to the same month last year, according to data from the National Institute of Space Research.