Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro claims NGOs setting fires in Amazon rainforest

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday accused non-governmental organizations (NGOs) of setting fires in the Amazon rainforest after the government pulled their funding, although he presented no evidence.

Bolsonaro said the administration is working to control wildfires in the Amazon rainforest, which have hit a record number this year as concerns mount over the right-winger’s environmental policy.

However, environmental groups have long been campaigning to save the Amazon, blaming Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, for the endangerment of the vital rainforest. They accuse him of relaxing environmental controls in the country and encouraging deforestation.

Bolsonaro’s environmental policies have been controversial from the start. A former army captain, he made campaign promises to restore the country’s economy by exploring the Amazon’s economic potential.

Just weeks ago, the director of INPE was fired after a spat with the president — the director had defended satellite data that showed deforestation was 88% higher in June than a year earlier, and Bolsonaro called the findings “lies.”

Bolsonaro also criticized the agency’s deforestation warnings as harmful for trade negotiations, according to the Agencia Brasil news agency.

Bolsonaro’s pro-business stance may have emboldened loggers, farmers and miners to seize control of a growing area of Amazon land, Carlos Rittl, executive secretary of the environmental non-profit organization Observatorio do Clima (Climate Observatory), told CNN en Español last month.

Budget cuts and federal interference are making it even easier for people to exploit the rainforest. Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency has seen its budget cut by $23 million which shows the enforcement agency’s operations have gone down since Bolsonaro was sworn in.

In July, Greenpeace called Bolsonaro and his government a “threat to the climate equilibrium” and warned that in the long run, his policies would bear a “heavy cost” for the Brazilian economy.

Environmental activists and organizations like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) warn that if the Amazon reaches a point of no return, the rainforest could become a dry savannah, no longer habitable for much of its wildlife. If this happens, instead of being a source of oxygen, it could start emitting carbon — the major driver of climate change.

Source : Various

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