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G7 countries to provide $20 million in emergency funding to combat Amazon fires

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G7 countries to provide $20 million in emergency funding to combat Amazon fires
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Andrew Parsons/Pool via Reuters
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French President Emmanuel Macron and Chilean President Sebastián Piñera said that the G7 nations agreed to provide $20 million (€17.9 million) in emergency funding to fight the Amazon fires.

Macron, who declared the Amazon fires a "global emergency" last week and pledged to use the G7 summit in Biarritz to hammer out a solution to solving them, said that the United States, Japan, France, Germany, Britain and Canada were close to agreeing "technical and financial help."

“There’s a real convergence to say: ‘let’s all agree to help those countries hit by these fires’,” he told reporters in Biarritz.

A record number of fires are currently burning in the Amazon, with Brazil's Space Research Centre revealing an 83% increase compared to a year earlier and other 80,000 in Brazil alone. Wildfires have also spread in neighbouring Bolivia.

It is not clear how Macron and other G7 leaders plan to tackle fires or prevent them from occurring again. Environmentalists have blamed deforestation of the Amazon for the blaze, but others — among them, Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro — have pointed out that fires are common in the dry season.

The French leader also said that the G7 countries aimed to create "an initiative for the Amazon" within the coming months that aimed to answer "central questions" for the region and launch "concrete projects" in the interests of "local populations" and "sustainable development."

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) welcomed the emergency $20 million fund to tackle the Amazonian blazes but deplored that the group did not take more concrete actions to get to the roots of the problem.

"G7 members have not yet been able to tackle the roots of this crisis by fighting effectively against the deforestation generated by their imports and activities In the region (soya, meat or mining)," WWF France said in a statement.

The French president's intervention last week, when Macron tweeted: "Our house is burning. Literally", riled Bolsonaro, who criticised foreign intervention in Brazil's domestic affairs.

Macron went as far as to threaten to block a trade deal between Brazil and the European Union unless Bolsonaro took action, and on Saturday the Brazilian president agreed to deploy the army to fight the Amazon blazes.

Patrick Alley is the Director of Global Witness, an international non-profit organisation that works to protect the environment and human rights. He says the current fires in the Amazon are a direct result of Bolsonaro's government policies:

"He has also weakened the law enforcement agencies in Brazil, it is all very well to sending in the troops now when he is getting international criticism, but he is actually responsible for what could amount to crimes against the humanity and the planet."

Alley goes on to say that the Amazon is close to a tipping point: "If 20% to 25% more of the total of the territory of the Amazon is lost, it will cease to be a tropical forest and will turn into a savanna... so we are looking at the end of the Amazon (in my lifetime)."

Watch Good Morning Europe's interview with the Director of Global Witness on the Amazon Fires in the player above.