French President Emmanuel Macron is calling on world leaders to place the massive fires destroying Brazil’s Amazon rainforest at the top of their agenda as they gather in France’s southwest for the G7 Summit.

“Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire,” Macron wrote in a tweet Thursday. “It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let’s discuss this emergency first order in two days!”

France is hosting the summit in the city of Biarritz, on the Atlantic coast, which begins on Saturday. President Trump and leaders from Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom will also attend.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres echoed Macron, saying in a tweet that “we cannot afford more damage to a major source of oxygen and biodiversity. The Amazon must be protected.”

An estimated 2,500 active fires in the Amazon have caused international concern, prompting a backlash against Brazil’s right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has described measures to protect the rainforest as “obstacles” to economic growth. Bolsonaro, who took office in January, has said repeatedly that he wants to open the Amazon to development.

In an announcement this week by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, or INPE, the agency said there have been 74,155 fires in the country so far this year – about half in the last month and most of them in the Amazon. That represents an 84% increase from the previous year.

Federal prosecutors in the Brazilian state of Para – one of the worst hit areas – have announced an investigation into why there has been such a huge rise in wild fires this year.

Neighboring Bolivia has also struggled to contain the fires.

The Express News

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