LONDON (ABC News) – A senior government official said Brazil would reject the $22 million G-7 countries promised to help fight the wildfires raging in the Amazon.
Brazilian President Bolsonaro’s chief of staff Onyx Lorenzoni told Globo News, a Brazilian publication, that Brazil would reject the $22 million aid package, suggesting that the money instead be used to reforest Europe.
Lorenzoni also made a dig at France’s President Emmanuel Macron, suggesting he could not stop a “predictable” fire in a church, in reference to the fire that decimated Notre Dame Cathedral in April.
A spokesperson of Brazil’s Presidential Palace confirmed to ABC News that an offer of aid from the G-7 nations had yet to be made official, but that if it did, the offer would be rejected.
This comes after Brazil’s Environment Minister Ricardo Salles indicated that Brazil would welcome aid from G-7 nations in an interview with reporters in São Paulo on Monday, according to Reuters.
The number of fires in the Brazilian Amazon so far this year has risen 84% from the same period in 2018, according to data from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which used satellites to collect its research.
The Brazilian government had previously said they did not have enough manpower to fight the flames.
The G-7 – made up of the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan – announced the aid on Monday at their recent summit in Biarritz as part of a joint international initiative to protect the Amazon. Macron also said that G-7 nations were working on a similar initiative to combat forest fires in sub-Saharan Africa.
As well as the G-7’s $22 million, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government would be providing an additional $12.2 million, with Canada also pledging an extra $11 million to help combat the Amazon forest fires. This would bring the total aid package up to $40 million.
Earth Alliance, an environmental group launched in July by Leonardo DiCaprio, has also pledged $5 million to focus on “focus critical resources for indigenous communities” affected by the fires.
The Brazilian government’s new stance throws doubt on whether they will be accepting any foreign help as they continue to struggle to put out the forest fires.
The Amazon rainforest is experiencing a record amount of fires this year, according to the country’s space agency.