In true 2020 fashion, the Amazon fire season in Brazil is off to its worst start in a decade. In the first 10 days of August alone the Amazon has had over 10,136 fires, which is an increase of 17 percent from last year, according to data from Inpe, the country’s national space research agency.
Romulo Batista, senior forest campaigner for Greenpeace Brazil, said, “This is the direct result of this government’s lack of an environment policy. We had more fires than last year.”
Blame for the forest fires and deforestation falls on the shoulders of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has failed to control both issues. The government did launch an operation in May called Operation Green Brasil 2, with the aim of using thousands of soldiers to prevent deforestation and protect the land — though that effort doesn’t seem to have paid off.
“It’s a lot of propaganda,” said Batista. “You don’t combat deforestation with an army operation, you do it working all year round with intelligence and coordination.”
As reported by Reuters, in a speech on Tuesday, Bolsonaro denied the surging fires in the Amazon. “This story that the Amazon is going up in flames is a lie and we must combat it with true numbers,” he said.
Now investors are under pressure to do their part to save the Amazon. Candido Bracher, CEO of Brazil’s Itaú Unibanco, said they would no longer finance meat companies suspected of contributing to deforestation. “We want to guarantee the industry won’t be supplied by meat from herds raised in deforested areas,” he told the Estadão . “We will do this by tracing.”