(Bloomberg) -- Slowing the destruction of the Amazon rainforest would become a focus of U.S. foreign policy under Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee said in Tuesday’s presidential debate, suggesting that countries should pay the Brazilian government to stop deforestation.
Biden said if elected president his administration would rejoin the Paris Agreement and rally wealthy nations to protect Brazil’s rainforest as part of a greater effort to combat climate change.
“I would be gathering up and making sure we had the countries of the world coming up with $20 billion and say, ‘here’s $20 billion, stop -- stop tearing down the forest. And if you don’t, then you’re going to have significant economic consequences’,” Biden said.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has clashed with the international community over his controversial environmental policies since taking office in 2019. More recently, he has switched strategies, calling on investors and companies to help protect the Amazon.
The South American nation is recording accelerating deforestation in parts of the country this year, with the Pantanal -- a vast wetland known as a cradle for endangered species in western Brazil -- burning at a record pace. In just the first two weeks of September, over 5,000 heat points were reported in the Pantanal biome, the most for that period since 2007. So far this year, the number of fires there is 208% higher than in 2019, according to Brazil’s Spatial Research Institute.
Read More: Brazil Wants Amazon Critics to Put Money Where Their Mouth Is
Bolsonaro’s office declined to comment on Biden’s proposal. Environmental Minister Ricardo Salles said in a text message Wednesday that $20 billion only covers part of the $100 billion committed by developed countries in measures to combat climate change in developing nations as part of the Paris Agreement.
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