Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is now planning to deploy the army to help fight the record number of fires raging in the Amazon rainforest. It would be a stretch to say the climate change–skeptic president is now treating the problem seriously after weeks of official indifference, but he does seem to have noticed the international backlash to that indifference.
“Whatever is within our power we will do,” Bolsonaro told reporters on Friday after a late-night emergency Cabinet meeting on Thursday. That’s at least a change in tone by a president who has previously not considered deforestation a problem and has blamed the fires on NGOs.
The leaders of France and Ireland are now threatening to block a landmark trade deal between the EU and the South American trading bloc Mercosur unless Brazil shows a commitment to protecting the environment. This is a significant threat: The deal, which would be the biggest trade deal in EU history, was finally sealed this year after two decades of negotiations, but it has not yet been ratified. French President Emmanuel Macron has been particularly outspoken this week, accusing Bolsonaro of having lied to him about his intent to uphold Brazil’s commitments to combat climate change. Bolsonaro shot back, accusing Macron of a “colonialist mentality.”
Read the full article and more in Slate.