Bolsonaro angry as Norway stops funding of Amazon protection | Brazil News

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has reacted angrily to a decision by Norway to stop funding projects to curb deforestation in Brazil after the country’s right-wing government blocked operations of a fund receiving the aid.

“Isn’t Norway that country that kills whales up there in the North Pole?” he told reporters after Norway said it would halt the payment of about $33m. “Take that money and help Angela Merkel reforest Germany.”

Germany has also suspended 35m euros ($39m) in funding of Amazon preservation in Brazil due to increasing deforestation.

For more than a decade, Norway has worked closely with Brazil to protect the Amazon rainforest, donating more than $1.2bn into the Amazon Fund, to which it is by far the biggest donor.

However, following changes by Bolsonaro’s government that changed the fund’s governance structure and closing down the steering committee that selects the projects to back, Norway decided to halt its funding.

Norway´s environment minister Ola Elvestuen confirmed to local media the funding was stopped as Brazil broke its agreement with Norway and Germany by closing down the board of the Amazon Fund and its technical committee.

So far, no formal proposal for the composition of a new committee has been made.

Brazil is home to 60 percent of the Amazon, which is the world’s largest tropical rainforest and is seen as vital to the global fight against climate change.

Since the start of Bolsonaro’s term last year, deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon has surged, with no plans of it slowing down in coming years. 

In both June and July this year, deforestation soared compared to previous years.

Following the release of that data, head of Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) had to leave his position citing an “unsustainable” situation.

Bolsonaro, whose term started at the beginning of 2019 after he rose to power on a right-wing populist platform, has repeatedly voiced scepticism over the rate of deforestation in the Amazon and called the data in question.

He has also suggested opening the world’s largest tropical rainforest to mining, farming and dam building.

Environmentalists have warned that Bolsonaro’s strong remarks calling for the opening up of the Amazon for development and criticising the country’s environmental enforcement agency Ibama for handing out too many fines would embolden loggers and ranchers seeking to profit from deforestation.

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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