G-7 Leaders Ready to Help Battle Amazon Wildfires with "Technical and Financial Means"

g-7 roundtable
BIARRITZ, FRANCE - AUGUST 25: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Council President Donald Tusk, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump meet for the first working session of the G7 Summit on August 25, 2019 in Biarritz, France. This afternoon President Macron announced that the leaders had reached an agreement for action on the Amazon wildfire crisis. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

French President Emmanuel Macron announced this afternoon that the G-7 leaders had reached a consensus on how to help fight the record number of forest fires currently raging in the Amazon.

"There is a real convergence to say 'we all agree to help the countries harmed by these fires as quickly as possible'" the host of the G-7 summit told reporters in French from the conference venue in Biarritz. He went on, listing all of the contacts being made "with all the countries of the Amazon... so that we can finalize very concrete technical and financial commitments."

On Friday, Macron threatened to block an important EU trade deal with Brazil and other South American countries, claiming that Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro had lied about his position on climate change.

Hours before the beginning of the annual meeting of world leaders on Friday, Macron released a video outlining his plan to mobilize all of the powers gathered in Biarritz to partner with Amazon countries "to invest first in fighting the fires and helping Brazil and the other impacted countries. Then to invest in reforestation everywhere."

Macron emphasized France's stake in the fires, referencing French Guiana, a former prison colony and current overseas department of France located on the northeastern edge of the Amazon rainforest. Bolsonaro shot back, accusing Macron of having an "unacceptable" and "colonialist mindset."

Over 75,000 fires have been recorded in the Amazon rainforest so far this year, more than double the 40,000 blazes recorded there in all of 2018, according to Brazil's National Institute for Space Research. The fires can be caused by natural phenomena, like lightning strikes, but are often intentionally set by loggers and ranchers clearing land for cattle grazing or farming. Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic, has encouraged farmers to exploit the land and weakened government agencies tasked with enforcing environmental regulations, NPR reported.

Smoke from the blazes has reached as far east as the Atlantic coast and blocked out the sun as a far away as Saõ Paulo, more than 2,000 miles to the south. Meanwhile NASA is tracking a carbon monoxide plume stretching across Brazil into the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

President Trump had a phone call with Bolsonaro before leaving Washington D.C. on Friday. Afterwards he tweeted, "Our future Trade prospects are very exciting and our relationship is strong, perhaps stronger than ever before. I told him if the United States can help with the Amazon Rainforest fires, we stand ready to assist!"

Bolsonaro in turn tweeted his praise of Trump, writing in Portuguese, "I had an excellent conversation today with the President @realDonaldTrump. Relations between Brazil and the U.S. are better than ever. We have a mutual desire to launch a major trade negotiation soon to promote the prosperity of our peoples" ABC News reports.

"President Trump has also been available to assist us in protecting the Amazon and fighting fires if we wish, as well as working together for an environmental policy that respects the sovereignty of countries," he continued.