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AMERICAS ENVIRONMENT

Norway Suspends Donation’s to Brazil’s Amazon Fund Over Deforestation Spread

Slash and burn agriculture in the Amazon
Slash and burn agriculture in the Amazon. (Photo: Matt Zimmerman, 2007)

Both Germany and Norway are pulling donations to Brazil’s Amazon fund over concerns that the Brazilian government is promoting the spread of deforestation.

The Norwegian government has reportedly suspended donations allocated to the Brazilian government’s Amazon Fund following an emergence of deforestation in the South American rainforest. The move, which is in line with a recent German suspension of similar donations, has sparked a severe attack by the Brazilian right-wing president.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro responded angrily to the suspension of Norway’s donations by saying, “Isn’t Norway that country that kills whales up there in the north pole? Take that money and help Angela Merkel reforest Germany.”

Brazilian Government Closes Amazon Fund’s Committee

Following weeks of tough negotiations with Norway and Germany, Bolsonaro’s government unilaterally closed the Amazon Fund’s steering committee on Thursday. As The Guardian explained, “The fund has been central to international efforts to curb deforestation although its impact is contested.”

According to Brazilian environment minister, Ricardo Salles, the Amazon Fund was suspended while the fund’s rules are under discussion.

The Norwegian counterpart of Salles, Ola Elvestue, said that an expected payment of $33.27 million to the fund would not be secured after Brazil had effectively broken the terms of its deal. Norway has remained the fund’s largest donor, with a total of $1.2 billion given over the past decade.

“He cannot do that without Norway and Germany’s agreement. What Brazil has shown so far is that it does no longer want to halt deforestation,” Elvestuen said.

This week, Berlin announced it would withhold an expected payment of about $39 million. Both Germany and Norway have recently questioned an initial proposal by the Brazilian government for the fund’s steering committee to be reduced in size, and they have also warned against any weakening of the structures of the fund.

Norwegian Government Expresses Concern Over Deforestation Rate

The Norwegian government and others have recently expressed grave concerns over the rate of deforestation since Bolsonaro has come to office.

Brazil’s National Institute for Space Researches said in July that the rate increased by 278 percent since the previous year, resulting in the destruction of about 870 square miles.

Bolsonaro has dismissed the figures, insisting the country “will truly take off once we manage to sensibly extract the riches” in the rainforest, 60 percent of which is in Brazil.

According to the Brazilian Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, the breakout of destruction has gone unabated. The newspaper suggested that farmers in the Amazon declared last Saturday a “fire day” in which they burned off vast areas of trees to pave the land for crops. The newspaper noted that those farmers felt encouraged to take that action because the president had hinted at his willingness to open up a previously-protected land.

The European Union, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay signed a free trade deal. The signatories are now known as the Mercosur bloc.

Reacting to the deal, Green campaigners described it as merely “lip service” to international goals to deal with climate warnings and would lead to a surge in Brazilian cattle ranching, which many believe is responsible for varying levels of deforestation.

The free trade deal will require approval by parliaments of each member state involved, as well as the European Union’s parliament.

In a symbolic motion, the Irish parliament instructed the Irish government last month to immediately begin setting up a coalition across the European Union to ensure that the deal is rejected. The motion signaled how disturbing the increasing damage of the Amazon is.

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Rami Almeghari

Rami Almeghari is a freelance independent writer, journalist and lecturer, based in the Gaza Strip. Rami has contributed in English to several media outlets worldwide, including print, radio and TV. He can be reached on facebook as Rami Munir Almeghari and on email as [email protected]

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1 Comment

  1. Larry N Stout August 17, 2019

    The action by Norway is “a statement”, but will have zero effect on the billionaire’s program of ruination, which is based ultimately on demand, which equates with overpopulation of Planet Earth. The human species is no longer sustainable.

    Reply

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