UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Thursday he was “deeply concerned” by wildfires that have damaged large sections of the Amazon rainforest. The fire has covered several Brazilian cities in thick smoke. “I’m deeply concerned by the fires in the Amazon rainforest. In the midst of the global climate crisis, we cannot afford more damage to a major source of oxygen and biodiversity,” he said on Twitter.
“The Amazon must be protected.”
Attention on the issue coincides with a UN regional meeting on climate change in Brazil ahead of a December summit in Chile.
Earlier, French president Macron said wildfires in the Amazon were an “international crisis” and called on this weekend’s G7 to address the issue.
“Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rainforest—the lungs which produces 20 per cent of our planet’s oxygen—is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let’s discuss this emergency first order in two days!” Macron said on Twitter.
The French president, who tweeted in French and English, is the latest international figure to raise the alarm over the raging wildfires in the Amazon.
Wildfires in the Amazon rainforest in northern Brazil have ignited a firestorm on social media, with Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday suggesting green groups started the blazes. Images of fires purportedly devouring sections of the world's largest rainforest have gone viral on Twitter. #PrayforAmazonas is the top trending hashtag in the world.
Official figures show nearly 73,000 forest fires were recorded in Brazil in the first eight months of the year -- the highest number for any year since 2013. Most were in the Amazon.
That compares with 39,759 in all of 2018, according to the embattled National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which has been in Bolsonaro's cross-hairs since it released data showing a surge in deforestation in recent months.