Brazil foreign minister says 'there is no climate change catastrophe'

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo speaks during a news conference at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil September 5,2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

(Reuters) - Brazil’s Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo denied on Wednesday that his country was burning down the Amazon rainforest and said unfounded alarm over global climate change was threatening Brazilian sovereignty.

“There is no climate change catastrophe,” Araujo said in a talk at Washington’s Heritage Foundation. “From the debate that is going on it would seem that the world is ending.”

A recent surge in fires in the Amazon, considered a bulwark against climate change, caused an international outcry and criticism of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for prioritizing development of the region over protection of the forests.

Araujo, who argued that there was a lack of scientific proof over the causes of global warming, said climate change advocates were stirring up alarmism for political ends as part of a leftist conspiracy against the United States and Brazil, whose sovereignty is under attack.

Araujo said Amazon fires were about average this year and deforestation in Brazil was only responsible for 2% of global CO2 emissions. Globally, he added, deforestation was responsible for 11% of total CO2 emissions.

“So even if we assume that CO2 emissions directly control temperature, which the computer models do not show, Brazil is not the culprit,” he said.

Bolsonaro has rejected as foreign interference the international criticism of his handling of the fires and insisted that Brazil will develop the Amazon as it deems fit.

Araujo said Brazil has been painted as “a country that is destroying the planet” and critics are proposing trade sanctions against it and even an “invasion.”

Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Tom Brown