Labour criticises Boris Johnson over ‘embarrassing’ £10m pledge to help save Amazon rainforest

Posted On: 
26th August 2019

Labour has criticised Boris Johnson over his “embarrassingly tiny” pledge to help restore the fire-ravaged Amazon rainforest.

Boris Johnson said he had been "horrified" by the scenes from the Amazon rainforest
Credit: 
PA Images

The Prime Minister announced £10m of immediate funding to protect and restore the habitat, including in areas affected by the current fires.

Mr Johnson, who is due to address a G7 session on the environment at the group’s summit in Biarritz, will warn world leaders that protecting the environment and tackling climate change are “two sides of the same coin”.

Labour accuses Trade Minister Conor Burns of 'cosying up' to Brazilian government

Boris Johnson expresses ‘deep concern’ over Amazon wildfires with call for international action

He will also call for new targets to halt and reverse the loss of habitats and species.

But Labour accused the Prime Minister of treating the “planetary emergency and the tragedy unfolding in the Amazon” as a “PR stunt”.

Mr Johnson is expected to say: “In a week where we have all watched, horrified, as the Amazon rainforest burns before our eyes, we cannot escape the reality of the damage we are inflicting on the natural world.

“The planet faces two immense threats: Climate change and biodiversity loss. These are two sides of the same coin – it is impossible to solve one challenge without fixing the other.

“We cannot stop climate change without protecting the natural environment and we can’t restore global nature without tackling climate change.”

However Shadow International Trade Secretary, Barry Gardiner, said Mr Johnson’s gesture came amid failure to confront the Brazilian government over its failure to tackle the country’s broader issue of forest fires.

The country's satellite monitoring agency has recorded more than 41,000 fires in the Amazon region this year, with many claimed to have been started by farmers clearing existing land.

“This is a global crisis that demands a deep and coordinated global response,” he said.

“Of course funds to combat deforestation are important, but they must be part of a sustained programme working with indigenous people and protecting their rights and their livelihoods which depend of the forest resource. 

“The truth is that £10 million is an embarrassingly tiny contribution to deal with the situation in the Amazon which is part of the sustained anti-environment campaign being waged by a right wing Brazilian government.

“Boris Johnson’s government has pointedly refused to ensure that UK companies are not aiding and abetting the destruction of the Amazon by ruling out from any trade deal beef raised on rainforest land burnt out by ranchers.”

‘DOESN’T ADD UP’

Aaron Kiely, a climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, questioned the Government’s step, given it came amid reports that the next Budget will pledge to axe fuel duty in the UK for the first time in eight years.   

“It doesn’t add up for the Government to commit to global biodiversity and pay the usual lip-service to the climate emergency while cutting fuel duty at home," he said.

“Nothing short of radical changes are needed right now and getting off our oil addiction is long overdue.

“All the more reason why effectively encouraging more driving – probably to keep a segment of voters happy – shows a fundamental lack of seriousness.

“Funding to protect the Amazon is not to be sniffed at but better yet, we could listen to the indigenous people who live there and know perfectly well what is needed to prevent a worsening crisis: leave their land alone.

“Climate change is a problem everywhere and cohesive policy that applies at home as well as elsewhere is needed from this Government.”