The Amazon rainforest is the source of 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen and a major sink for global carbon emissions, consuming 25 per cent of the 2.4 billion metric tons of carbon that forests around the world remove from the atmosphere every year. It is crucial for meeting the goal of keeping worldwide warming below 3.6° as outlined in the Paris climate accords.
It is little wonder, then, that the international community is calling the current spate of forest fires in the Amazon, escalating at the fastest rate since 2013, an ‘international crisis.’ French president Emmanuel Macron’s tweet, “Our house is burning”, is to the point – the destruction of the Amazon could mean a rapid acceleration of climate change. Apart from the additional greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, the fires are a potential threat to the region’s biodiversity as the world’s largest tropical rainforest is home to an estimate 30 per cent of the world’s plant and animal species.
While urgent efforts to combat the fires are undoubtedly necessary, that is necessarily a short-term solution. More crucially, the international community needs to propose solutions that would benefit both the Amazon and Brazil in the long term. While the pro-business government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has weakened regulations to preserve forests and indigenous lands, as well as the environmental agencies charged with protecti