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$40m aid pledged at G7 summit to extinguish raging Amazon fires

PARIS, France: The seven developed economies of the world pledged tens of millions of dollars to help fight raging wildfires in the Amazon and protect its rainforest.

The pledge came despite Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s accusations against the rich countries of treating the region like a “colony.”

The international pledges at a G7 summit in France included US$20m from the group, as well as a separate $12m from Britain and $11m from Canada. Ottawa has also offered to send firefighting planes to Brazil.

Brazil’s environment minister, Ricardo Salles, said the aid was welcome and that Brazil should decide how the resources are used.

According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, some 1,113 new fires were ignited across Saturday and Sunday.

Other groups have also expressed support for a region whose rainforests are a major absorber of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Earth Alliance, a new environmental foundation backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, is pledging $5m in aid, saying the Amazon is one of the “best defences” against climate change.

The funds are widely seen as critical support, but a relatively small amount for dealing with an environmental crisis of such scale threatening what French President Emmanuel Macron called “the lungs of the planet.”

More than $1bn, for example, has been paid into a fund to help the Amazon in the past 10 years. And major donors Germany and Norway recently cut donations to Brazilian forestry projects, saying Bolsonaro’s administration was not committed to curbing deforestation.

It was unclear how exactly the new money would be administered by the Brazilian government.

About 60 percent of the Amazon region is in Brazil; the vast forest also spans parts of Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru and Suriname.