In a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, Brazil’s Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo rejected claims that his country is unable to cope with the environmental challenges of the Amazon, as recent world attention has focused on the growing number of fires.
He said unfounded alarm over global climate change was threatening Brazilian sovereignty and what was needed was more jobs for residents of the Amazon.
“We see some signs of ideas that would question sovereignty, that would be in a sense of the case of Brazil that we are specifically in the Amazon, that we maybe are not able to cope of the challenges of the environment there– we know that’s not true, and our friends here in the U.S. know that’s not true. And we want to be together in the endeavor to create development for the Amazon region which we are convinced that is the only way to really protect the forest. So we need new initiatives, new productive initiatives, that create jobs, that create revenue for people in the Amazon and that’s where our partnership of the United States will be very important for us,” he said.
Last month, Brazil’s space research agency, INPE, revealed the number of fires in the Amazon this year was the highest since 2010. And deforestation rose for the fourth straight month in August from a year earlier, it said last week.
Fire has long been a key tool for agricultural expansion in the Amazon, with farmers burning forest or logged land to clear it for crop production or cattle grazing.
The increase this year is due to criminal gangs grabbing large swathes of forest and cutting it down to expand farmland, according to Brazilian federal prosecutor Daniel Lobo, based in the Amazon city of Porto Velho.
(Production: Arlene Eiras)