Brazil can’t stop deforestation without help, says minister

Brazil receives money from Germany and Norway to fight deforestation. (AFP)
Updated 09 December 2019

Brazil can’t stop deforestation without help, says minister

  • Deforestation in the 12 months through July reached the highest annual rate in 11 years

MADRID: Brazil can’t stop deforestation in the Amazon without the help of rich countries, the country’s environment minister said at the United Nations’ two-week climate change conference.

Ricardo Salles, who declined to set a target for limiting deforestation in the coming year, said in an interview Saturday with The Associated Press that his country is committed to reducing illegal activity, but needs the support of developed nations.

“We are willing to do whatever is necessary to do so, but we need that back up,” Salles said. 

“That back up was promised many years ago and we’re still expecting the rich countries to participate in a proper way. Proportional funds are really what are going to be needed for that task.”

While participating in the climate conference known as COP25, Salles is working to assure others of the environmental policies of Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro has squabbled with some European leaders this year over his commitment to protecting the Amazon. 

He has worried environmental activists and others by criticizing Brazil’s environment regulator and by calling for more development in the Amazon region. 

He also accused activists groups, without evidence, of having set fires in that region to undermine his administration.

Deforestation in the 12 months through July reached the highest annual rate in 11 years. Brazil’s annual deforestation report released in November showed a nearly 30 percent jump from the prior year in the Amazon, which lost 3,769 square miles of forest.

Salles said developed nations should help Brazil on the basis of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement signed in 2015 on tackling the effects of climate change. The article says monetary compensation mechanisms must be created to help developing countries.

Brazil already receives money from wealthy nations, namely Germany and Norway, to fight deforestation in the vast Amazon rainforest. Norway alone has donated $1.2 billion to Brazil’s Amazon Fund since its creation in 2008.


Singapore confirms first case of Wuhan virus

Updated 23 January 2020

Singapore confirms first case of Wuhan virus

Singapore Thursday confirmed its first case of the new SARS-like virus which has killed 17 people in China and spread to multiple countries including the United States.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said the patient was a 66-year-old man from Wuhan who arrived in Singapore with his family on Monday.
He was immediately isolated after arriving at a hospital with a fever and cough, and test results later confirmed he was infected with the coronavirus.
One of his traveling companions, a 37-year-old man from Wuhan, has also been admitted to hospital as a suspect case.
Prior to admission, they had stayed at a hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, the ministry said.
It added that Singapore was expecting more cases and alarms “given the high volume of international travel.”
Moreover, tourists leaving Bangkok for China said on Thursday they were worried about the spread of the Wuhan virus, ahead of more air and train travel in the lead-up to the Lunar New Year holidays.
China has placed Wuhan, a city of 11 million, on lockdown, as it is considered the epicenter of a new coronavirus outbreak that has killed 17 and infected nearly 600.
Thailand has so far confirmed four cases of coronavirus, the largest number outside China. Two of the cases were Chinese women who have since been allowed to return home. Chinese tourists make up the largest group of visitors to Thailand.
At Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport, masked visitors lined up as usual to check in for Southern China Airlines flights back to China.
AirAsia said on Thursday it has canceled direct flights between Wuhan and cities in Thailand and Malaysia until Jan 28.
Matt Thomas, who lives in the Chinese city of Xian, said he was worried about the new Chinese virus, especially because he once contracted swine flu which he described as “awful.”
“I’m a bit worried that it will repeat. I have just got to be safe. In these sorts of situations, you know, take everything seriously, don’t take any risks,” Thomas said.
Chinese health officials fear the transmission rate will accelerate, as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and abroad during week-long holidays for the Lunar New Year.