“Members of the G7 Summit, let’s discuss this emergency first order in two days!” he said, adding the hashtag #ActForTheAmazon.
Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro blasted Macron’s offer as “sensationalist” and accused him of using the fires for “political gain.”
“The suggestion of the French president that Amazonian issues be discussed in the G7 without countries in the region participating is reminiscent of a colonial mindset inappropriate in the 21st century,” he said in a second tweet.
The G7 nations are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US.
And 99% percent of the fires result from human actions “either on purpose or by accident,” said Alberto Setzer, a senior scientist at INPE. The burning can range from a small-scale agricultural practice, to new deforestation for a mechanized and modern agribusiness project, Setzer told CNN by email.
Environmental organizations and researchers say the wildfires were set by cattle ranchers and loggers who want to clear and utilize the land, emboldened by the country’s pro-business president.
Amnesty International on Thursday said responsibility for the fires “lies squarely with President Bolsonaro and his government,” adding that his government’s “disastrous policy of opening up the rainforest for destruction (is) what has paved the way for this current crisis.”
In a Facebook Live video Thursday, Bolsonaro suggested multiple parties — including ranchers, NGOs and indigenous communities — could be to blame.
“Who carries this out? I don’t know. Farmers, NGOs, whoever it may be, Indians, whoever it may be,” Bolsonaro said. He went on to say there are “suspicions” that ranchers are behind the forest fires and appealed to the Brazilian people to “help us” combat the blazes.
‘Looking at untold destruction’
The Amazon is the largest tropical rainforest in the world and accounts for at least 10% of the planet’s biodiversity.
The Amazon forest also produces about 20% of the world’s oxygen and is often called “the planet’s lungs.”
“The Amazon is incredibly important for our future, for our ability to stave off the worst of climate change,” said Christian Poirier, the program director of non-profit organization Amazon Watch. “This isn’t hyperbole. We’re looking at untold destruction — not just of the Amazon but for our entire planet.”
Environmentalists are blaming Bolsonaro
More than two-thirds of the Amazon are located in Brazil and environmental groups accuse Bolsonaro, who has previously said he is not “Captain Chainsaw,” of relaxing environmental controls in the country and encouraging deforestation.
When running for president, Bolsonaro made campaign promises to restore the economy by exploring the Amazon’s economic potential. Now, environmental organizations say he has encouraged ranchers, farmers, and loggers to exploit and burn the rainforest like never before with a sense of impunity.
The pro-business Bolsonaro has hamstrung Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency with budget cuts amounting to $23 million — official data sent to CNN by Observatorio do Clima shows the enforcement agency’s operations have fallen since Bolsonaro was sworn in.
“The vast majority of these fires are human-lit,” said Amazon Watch’s Poirier, adding that even during dry seasons, the Amazon — a humid rainforest — doesn’t catch on fire easily, unlike the dry bushland in California or Australia.
Farmers and ranchers have long used fire to clear land, said Poirier, and are likely behind the unusually large number fires burning in the Amazon today.
This year’s fires fit with an established seasonal agricultural pattern, said CNN meteorologist Haley Brink. “It’s the best time to burn because the vegetation is dry. (Farmers) wait for the dry season and they start burning and clearing the areas so that their cattle can graze. And that’s what we’re suspecting is going on down there.”
CNN’s Taylor Barnes contributed from Atlanta.