I propose to take Questions Nos. 37 and 42 together.
I am deeply concerned by the widespread fires that have devastated large areas of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and neighbouring countries. The Taoiseach has made a statement on the matter, voicing his concerns and urging the Brazilian Government to honour its environmental commitments under the Paris Agreement, a key element of the EU Mercosur trade deal.
I welcome the action taken by President Bolsonaro in the midst of this crisis, to scale up the national response by mobilising the army to tackle the fires and to strengthen surveillance, as well as announcing a 60-day ban on setting fires. I understand that the Brazilian Government is also studying ways to increase penalties for environmental crimes and to identify the source of the fires. President Bolsonaro further announced that South American countries will meet in early September to discuss a coordinated response.
The Mercosur Agreement includes a detailed chapter on the Sustainable Development Goals and recognises the need to address the urgent threat of climate change and the role trade has in that regard, as well as underscoring the importance of both Parties implementing provisions of the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement is a legally binding, global agreement on climate change which puts in place the necessary framework for all countries to take ambitious mitigation action.
Recognising that climate change is a global phenomenon requiring collective action, Ireland is committed to working in step with the EU and our international partners, including Brazil, to find effective solutions and looks forward to related discussions and moving the agenda forward at the upcoming COP 25 in Santiago, Chile in December.
Brazil has affirmed the value and importance of bilateral cooperation and international financial support to contribute to the fight against fires and the protection of the Amazon rainforests, in line with national policies and complementary to multilateral mechanisms, outlining in particular existing instruments under the United Nation’s Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC),
Ireland is an active participant in the UNFCCC, which contains several instruments to finance deforestation reduction and reforestation activities. Ireland, along with our EU partners, remains committed to the collective goal of mobilising USD 100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020.
Ireland’s Ambassador to Brazil, Seán Hoy, visited the Amazon region in July and met with local government representatives and civil society organisations. Ireland will continue to monitor this issue closely and stands ready with our EU colleagues to support efforts to provide further practical assistance to the Brazilian Government.