Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday claimed—without evidence—that NGOs are setting fires in the Amazon rainforest, possibly to damage his administration’s image after he cut their funding. There have been a record number of fires in the Amazon this year, and Bolsonaro insisted that “everything indicates” that NGOs are to blame for the uptick. When asked about evidence for his theory, the right-wing Brazilian leader said he had “no written plan” and “that’s not how it’s done.” Marcio Astrini, Greenpeace Brazil’s public policy coordinator, told Reuters it was “a sick statement, a pitiful statement.”
There has been a surge in Amazon wildfires since Bolsonaro took office. Data showed an 84 percent increase from the same period in 2018, with a total of 72,843 fires in Brazil this year. The Amazon is the most biodiverse region on the planet and produces 20 percent of the planet’s oxygen.