Environment

Leonardo DiCaprio-backed charity pledges $5 million to reduce Amazon rainforest fires; G-7 joins in

Key Points
  • The funding announcements come as a petition urging the Brazilian government to preserve the Amazon rainforest surpasses 5 million signatures.
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New video shows Brazil's charred Amazon rainforest as emergency efforts ramp up

Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio has announced a $5 million pledge to help reduce the number of fires in the Amazon rainforest.

It comes amid global outcry over fires in the Brazilian Amazon, with celebrities calling for action and pledging to donate to efforts in order to tackle the issue.

DiCaprio announced on Sunday that Earth Alliance, an organization dedicated to environmental philanthropy that he co-chairs, was pledging $5 million in funding to protect the Amazon.

In an Instagram post, he said the fund's purpose was "to focus critical resources for indigenous communities and other local partners working to protect the life-sustaining biodiversity of the Amazon against the surge of fires currently burning across the region."

The post has been liked more than 1 million times in less than 24 hours. DiCaprio also asked his 34 million followers to donate to the fund, with Earth Alliance promising that 100% of the money raised will go directly to forest preservation efforts.

Speaking to Reuters on Monday, DiCaprio said the crisis in the Amazon was "incredibly tragic."

"The governments around the world, including Brazil, need to work together to make sure this doesn't continue," he said.

G-7 pledges $22 million

Also on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said G-7 nations will provide at least 20 million euros ($22 million) in emergency funding to help with efforts to prevent fires in the Amazon rainforest.

Speaking at the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, Macron also said he had a long discussion with President Donald Trump about the issue, adding that Trump supported the G-7 initiative.

The G-7 countries — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. — represent 40% of global GDP.

Macron also told reporters at the summit that Brazil deserved a president who was "up to the job," according to Reuters. Last week, it was reported that France would veto an EU trade deal with Brazil and its neighboring countries over Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's environmental policies.

On Thursday, the Brazilian leader attacked a tweet in which Macron called for the soaring number of fires in the Amazon to be discussed at the G-7 summit.

"The French President's suggestion that Amazonian issues be discussed at the G-7 without the participation of the countries of the region evokes a misplaced colonialist mindset in the 21st century," he said on Twitter.

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Record-breaking number of fires burn in Brazil's Amazon

Last week, satellite data from Brazil's National Institute for Space Research showed an 84% year-on-year increase in the number of fires during the period between January and August.

The space agency detected more than 74,000 fires in the Brazilian Amazon this year — the highest number for the same period since records began in 2013.

Change.org petition

Macron's funding announcement comes after a petition urging the Brazilian government to preserve the Amazon rainforest surpassed 5.1 million signatures.

The petition, addressed to the Federal Government of Brazil, the Brazilian Senate and the country's environmental ministries, calls for the protection of Article 225 of Brazil's Federal Constitution, which states that "the Government and the community shall have the duty to defend and preserve (the environment) for present and future generations."

It had reached more than 5,100,100 signatures on Monday, just three days after being started by Valeria Magalhaes, a change.org user based in the Brazilian city of Manaus.

A stronger petition, calling for the EU and U.N. to impose sanctions on Brazil for failing to take action on deforestation in the Amazon, surpassed 108,000 signatures by Monday.

Celebrity movement

Singer Madonna took to Instagram on Friday to urge Bolsonaro to alter his policies on climate change and the Amazon, while actor Jaden Smith, rapper Lil Nas X and supermodel Cara Delevingne have brought the issue to the attention of millions on social media.

Correction: The headline on this story has been updated to reflect that the pledge was made by Earth Alliance. A previous version mischaracterized the funds.