(Written by Peter Baker)
The Group of 7 agreed on a $20 million aid package to help Brazil and its neighbours fight the fires raging in the Amazon rain forest, President Emmanuel Macron of France said Monday at the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France.
Macron and President Sebastián Piñera of Chile said they also had reached an agreement in concept with the countries of the Amazon basin for a long-term program of forest protection and reforestation of cleared lands. They said more details might be presented next month at the UN General Assembly.
The announcements followed a session on climate, the oceans and biodiversity that included representatives of several countries that are not members of the Group of 7.
President Donald Trump, who was holding meetings with other leaders, did not attend that session, according to Macron. The White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, said a senior member of the administration took part in his place.
Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have called the Amazon fires a global crisis and a significant contributor to climate change, and insisted that the Group of 7 address it.
The fires accelerate depletion of one of the world’s largest forests, a crucial sink for the atmospheric carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming. They also threaten indigenous peoples and shrinking wildlife habitat.
Even before the recent fires, deforestation had accelerated since Jair Bolsonaro became president of Brazil, and environmental groups have accused him of encouraging it. Fires in the Amazon are often set intentionally — and illegally — to clear forests for farming or ranching.