Leo Varadkar joins France and the UN in calling for the protection of the Amazon by Brazilian President Jair Balsonara, who they believe is not living up to his environmental commitment

Ireland's Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar has said the country will not vote for the European Union-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement if Brazil does not honor its environmental commitments and work to ensure the Amazon fires are under control.

Since the start of 2019, there have been nearly 73k fires in Brazil. This is the highest number of fires since 2013. Most of these fires occurred in the Amazon. The extent of the current fires had not been determined but early this week the city of Sao Paulo and several others were choked by smoke. 

The Amazon, often described as the "lungs of the planet," creates 20% of our atmosphere's oxygen. Since Aug 15, 9.5k new fires have broken out. 

Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest - the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen - is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let's discuss this emergency first order in two days! #ActForTheAmazon pic.twitter.com/dogOJj9big

— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 22, 2019

France and the United Nations have also called for the protection of the Amazon by Brazilian President Jair Balsonara, who had blamed NGOs of starting the fires. Varadkar called his comments "Orwellian" and said the country's environmental actions will be monitored "closely."

He said, "His statement that Brazil will stay in the Paris accords on Climate Change 'for now' will raise antennas across Europe.

"There is no way we can tell Irish and European farmers to use fewer pesticides, less fertilizer, embrace biodiversity and plant more of their land and expect them to do it if we do not make trade deals contingent on decent environmental, labor and product standards."

UN chief Antonio Guterres said he was "deeply concerned" by the fires. 

I’m deeply concerned by the fires in the Amazon rainforest. In the midst of the global climate crisis, we cannot afford more damage to a major source of oxygen and biodiversity.

The Amazon must be protected.

— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) August 22, 2019

"The Amazon must be protected."

French President Emmanuel Macron called the wildfires were "an international crisis" and called on the globe's most industrialized nations to address it at the G7 summit this weekend.

The Mercosur deal is a trade deal agreed between the EU and four South American countries – Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Varadkar has said Ireland will not vote for the deal. 

Protest now outside the Brazilian embassy against #AmazonFires. @LeoVaradkar should pull the #Mercosur trade deal now, not in two or three years time. #ExtinctionRebellion #FridaysForFurture #ActForTheAmazon pic.twitter.com/akDkvAmxvh

— Eamon Ryan (@EamonRyan) August 23, 2019

Ahead of the meeting of the G7 nations in Biarritz, an Élysée source said Emmanuel Macron thought Brazil’s president, Bolsonaro, “lied” to him at the G20 meeting in Osaka in June about his climate commitments.

The source told AFP, “The decisions and comments of Brazil show that President Bolsonaro has decided not to respect his commitments on the climate or biodiversity."