Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Questions (54, 60)

Seán Crowe


54. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the unprecedented forest fires in Brazil, particularly in the Amazon rainforest (details supplied); and the steps he is taking to ensure that the Amazon, the indigenous population that live there and its unique ecosystem are protected. [37239/19]

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Bríd Smith


60. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the Government is still intent on supporting the Mercosur trade deal in view of the devastation of the fires in the Amazon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37468/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 54 and 60 together.

The fires burning in the Amazon have highlighted the international importance of the Amazon rainforest, particularly in the context of global action on climate change.

It is essential that each country plays its part in this effort. The Taoiseach has highlighted the value Ireland places on this, voicing concerns regarding the fires and urging the Brazilian Government to honour its environmental commitments under the Paris Agreement, a key element of the EU Mercosur trade deal.

The Mercosur Agreement includes a detailed chapter on the Sustainable Development Goals and recognises the need to address climate change, as well as underscoring the importance of both Parties implementing provisions of the Paris Agreement.

I welcome the action taken by President Bolsonaro to address this crisis, including mobilising the army to tackle the fires and introducing a 60-day ban on setting fires. Representatives of several affected countries in the region met in Colombia earlier this month to discuss the crisis. The 'Leticia Amazon pact' signed by the group aims to increase regional coordination and step up efforts to tackle the crisis, and I discussed the situation with the Foreign Minister of Colombia, Carlos Holmes Trujillo García, whom I meet earlier today.

The group was joined at the meeting by leaders of indigenous communities affected by deforestation and the fires in the Amazon. It is important that these groups are engaged on this issue, and I am deeply concerned by the reports of threats, intimidation and violence against environmental and indigenous rights defenders in Brazil, and across the wider Latin America region.

Support for human rights defenders and an open civil society space is a cornerstone of Ireland's foreign policy. The Ambassador of Ireland to Brazil, Seán Hoy, visited the Amazon region in July and met with local government representatives and civil society organisations.

Addressing the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and deforestation requires effective multilateral cooperation, and Ireland continues to engage on this issue at the EU and international level. This engagement takes place through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement. Ireland provides support to a number of UNFCCC instruments that contribute financing to deforestation reduction and reforestation activities.