AFN National Chief Calls for Action on Amazon Rainforest Fires

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde
AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde

OTTAWA – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde wants Brazil and all countries to take immediate action to stop the fires that are devastating the Amazon, and for all federal party leaders in Canada to commit to work with First Nations on a national plan to address the climate crisis with specific actions and measurable targets.

“We must act now to stop the fires in the Amazon rainforest and if this requires international pressure at the G7 meeting and other forums then Indigenous peoples around the world support that,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “The climate crisis – climate destruction – is our number one priority. Everything hinges on a livable world and a healthy environment for our children. It is an emergency and First Nations can be first responders. Every leader of every political party in Canada needs to commit now to work with First Nations on a national action plan with specific targets and progress that can be measured and assessed. In the Amazon and here in our homelands, climate destruction is an immediate threat to Indigenous lives, Indigenous rights and Indigenous territories.”

Currently, there are an estimated 75,000 fires raging in the Amazon.  Deforestation in the region has increased by at least 80% over the past year.  Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, ran on a platform of deforestation which is pushing farmers, ranchers and miners deeper and deeper into the rainforest.  The Amazon is an important source of the Earth’s oxygen, and Brazil is home to 60% of the Amazon and more than 300 Indigenous tribes.

National Chief Bellegarde pointed to the Paris Agreement as the roadmap forward, stating, “The Paris Agreement sets out a positive and progressive plan of action. It is the first climate change agreement that commits countries to ambitious climate action, while respecting the rights of Indigenous peoples. First Nations are the first to feel the impacts of climate change and we are dealing with forest fires, flooding and loss of animal and plant life in our territories.  Meeting our targets under the Paris Agreement requires a focused and sustained effort but those targets must not be seen as aspirational or optional.  They are literally a matter of life and death. We are out of time. First Nations are ready to work with all governments to act now.”

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