Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday angrily denied the existence of fires in the Amazon rainforest, calling it a “lie”, despite data produced by his own government showing that thousands of fires are surging across the region.
The number of fires in the Amazon rainforest grew 30.5% in 2019 from the previous year, according to data released by space research agency INPE. The agency said the number of fires detected in the Amazon region was 89,178 in 2019 compared with 68,345 fires in 2018.
American actor Leonardo DiCaprio denied a claim by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro that he had helped fund groups allegedly linked to fires in the Amazon rain forest.
Brazilian police on Tuesday arrested four volunteer firefighters accused of intentionally setting fires in the Amazon rainforest, but civic leaders said the arrests amounted to government harassment of environmental groups.
The Brazilian Amazon is facing its worst spate of forest fires since 2010, with news of the destruction of the world's largest rainforest last month prompting global outcry and worries that it could hurt demand for the country's exports.
Brazilians saying that President Jair Bolsonaro is doing a “bad or terrible” job rose to 38% from 33% previously, in the first major poll since the government faced global outcry over its handling of record fires in the Amazon rainforest.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday he was eager to speak about the Amazon fires that have drawn world attention at the next U.N. General Assembly in September, as the issue appeared to erode his support at home.
Canada will continue its trade negotiations with Mercosur, the South American trading bloc that includes Brazil, despite demands to call a halt to the talks until more action is taken to protect the Amazon rainforest.
Weak rainfall is unlikely to extinguish a record number of fires raging in Brazil's Amazon anytime soon, with pockets of precipitation through to Sept 10 expected to bring only isolated relief, according to weather data and two experts.
Bolivia's president Evo Morales gave a half-hearted welcome on Tuesday to a G7 pledge of US$20 million to fight the Amazon wildfires, describing it as tiny. An underwhelmed Morales said the aid from the most industrialized countries was part of the world's obligation to preserve the Amazon rainforest.