German government criticises Brazil over Amazon fire, calls for rainforest protection programme
Clean Energy Wire
The exceptionally large wildfires in the Amazon region in South America have led German government members to criticise Brazil's government under President Jair Bolsonaro for inaction and to call for much stronger international efforts to protect rainforests around the world as a crucial climate action measure. Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Bolsonaro's insistence on Brazil's full sovereignty over the events in the Amazon region was only partially justified. "Of course, this is Brazilian territory, but the rainforest is a truly global question. This affects the lungs of our entire earth and that’s why we also need to find a common solution," Merkel said at the G7 meeting of industrialised states in France.
"A fragile ecosystem that evolved over millions of years is now in danger due to the devastating fires and due to Brazil's forest clearing policies. This has unforeseeable consequences for the global climate," said environment minister Svenja Schulze. "We're ready to help but not naïve," Schulze said, adding that the recently concluded trade agreement between the EU and South America's Mercosur states would not be viable without "protection guarantees" for the rainforest.
Development cooperation minister Gerd Müller called on the G7 to quickly make good on promises already made in 2015 to step up climate change mitigation spending and especially for rainforest protection programmes. "An area the size of a football field is cleared every four seconds, first of all for vast soy and palm oil plantations," Müller said, adding that 11 percent of global CO2 emissions are caused by deforestation. The minister called for assisting countries like Brazil, Russia, the Congo and Indonesia in wildfire protection and pledged that Germany would spend an additional 500 million euros per year by 2020 to fund global climate action measures.
Wildfires are also becoming an increasingly severe problem in Germany, which in the past had little experience with prolonged drought periods that are now starting to take a toll on the country's iconic woodlands. A recent report by the UN's climate change panel (IPCC) found that land use for agriculture is both a major cause of global emissions and at the same time could be among the sectors hit the hardest by global warming and changing weather patterns. A study published in July by Swiss researchers found that planting trees and restoring forests across the globe could be an effective way to fight climate change.