Brazil closed off a chaotic end to this week’s G7 meeting in France by accepting some of the financial aid countries had offered to fight out-of-control wildfires in the Amazon rainforest, after President Jair Bolsonaro initially turned down the funds and questioned the motives behind the offer.
Hours after the more than US$22 million in pledges, “Brazil’s government angrily rejected the offer, in effect telling the other nations to mind their own business—only to later lay out potential terms for the aid’s acceptance and then, on Tuesday evening, accepting some aid from Britain,” the New York Times recounts. Bolsonaro “expressed his ire in a series of Twitter posts on Monday, extending his verbal feud with President Emmanuel Macron of France, who had announced the aid package at the Group of 7 summit meeting.”
Early Tuesday, the Brazilian president said he would accept the money if Macron withdrew what Bolsonaro saw as a series of personal insults and slights to Brazil’s sovereignty, and as a veiled attempt to shield France’s agriculture sector from Brazilian competition. He subsequently accepted $12 million in support from the United Kingdom, while reserving the right to decide how the money is used.
“For Mr. Bolsonaro, who has governed as a far-right populist stoking nationalist sentiment, the defiant rebuff of the G7 aid played well to his base,” the Times says. “But an outright rejection of any outside help might also have undermined the nation’s efforts to control the fires, possibly further eroding Mr. Bolsonaro’s plummeting popularity.”
The $12 million flowed after a meeting yesterday between Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. “The government stresses that all external support is welcome, provided the decision over how those resources are employed is ours,” said Bolsonaro spokesperson Otávio Rêgo Barros, but “our sovereignty is non-negotiable.”
Bolsonaro received support from his ideological soulmate in the White House. “He is working very hard on the Amazon fires and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil—Not easy,” Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday. “He and his country have the full and complete support of the USA!”
Trump had a moment of his own toward the end of the G7 meeting in France, declaring himself unwilling to sacrifice his country’s abundant fossil wealth for “dreams” like renewable electricity. “We’re the No. 1 energy producer in the world,” he said Monday. “I’m not going to lose that wealth on dreams on windmills which, frankly, are not working all that well.”
Trump “addressed the issue of climate change by citing surging exports of both crude oil and natural gas—a frequent refrain for the president, who has celebrated what he calls American ‘energy dominance’,” Bloomberg reports. “He also has frequently disparaged wind power, previously suggesting that turbines drive down real estate values, kill birds and, without citing evidence, cause cancer.”
Earlier that day, The Guardian carried a photo of an empty chair after Trump missed a G7 session on climate change and biodiversity. He also plans to skip UN Secretary General António Guterres’ climate summit in New York City next month, The Hill reports. Heading into the G7 summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the 28-member European Union to adopt a 2050 deadline for full carbon neutrality.