Norway cuts Amazon aid in row with Brazil

Oslo: Norway has suspended donations to projects to curb deforestation in Brazil after the South American country's right-wing government blocked operations of a fund receiving the aid.

Norway has worked closely with Brazil to protect the Amazon rainforest for more than a decade and has paid some $1.2 billion ($1.7 billion) into the Amazon Fund, to which it is by far the biggest donor.

A female indigenous chief attends a march by indigenous women protesting the policies of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in Brasilia this week.Credit:AP

But the government of President Jair Bolsonaro unilaterally changed the fund's governance structure and closed down the steering committee that selects the projects to back, making no formal proposal for the composition of a new committee.

Deforestation has surged in Brazil's Amazon since Bolsonaro was elected last year, and his plans to develop the rainforest have alarmed environmentalists.

The aid that Brazil receives depends on the results of work to curb deforestation and for 2018 the funding would amount to about 300 million Norwegian crowns ($33 million), but Norway will not proceed with the payment, a spokesman for the ministry of climate and environment said on Thursday.

Germany has also suspended €35 million ($57 million) in funding of Amazon preservation in Brazil due to increasing deforestation.

Bolsonaro reacted angrily to the suspension of funding and said Brazil would not take any lessons from the donor countries.

"Isn't Norway that country that kills whales up there in the North Pole?" he told reporters. "Take that money and help Angela Merkel reforest Germany," he said.

Brazil is home to 60 per cent of the Amazon, the world's largest tropical forest, which is seen as vital to countering global warming.


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