G7 leaders agree plan to help Amazon countries fight wildfires

The G7 countries have agreed to an immediate $20m (£16m) aid package to help Amazon countries fight wildfires and launch a long-term global initiative to protect the rainforest.

The announcement came from the French president, Emmanuel Macron, the host of this year’s meeting of G7 leaders, and the Chilean president, Sebastián Piñera. Macron said the Amazon represented the “lungs” of the planet and leaders were studying the possibility of similar support in Africa, also suffering from fires in its rainforests.

Macron said the US supported the initiative, although he acknowledged that the US president, Donald Trump, had skipped Monday’s working session on the environment.

Satellites have recorded more than 41,000 fires in the Amazon region so far this year – more than half of those this month alone. Experts say most of the fires are started by farmers or ranchers clearing existing farmland.

Macron had shunted the Amazon fires to the top of the summit agenda after declaring them a global emergency, and kicked off discussions about the disaster at a welcome dinner for fellow leaders on Saturday.

The leaders of the G7 countries – the US, France, Britain, Germany, Japan, Canada and Italy – are wrapping up a summit in Biarritz dominated by tensions over US trade policies and a surprise visit by Iran’s top diplomat.

Trump and Macron will finish off the three-day summit with a joint news conference later on Monday.

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