G-7 leaders agree on Amazon fire aid at meeting Trump missed

The leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7) countries agreed on a $20 million aid package to combat forest fires ravaging the Amazon during a meeting Monday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's top adviser on Asia to serve as deputy national security adviser United Auto Workers strike against GM poised to head into eighth day Trump doubles down on call to investigate Biden after whistleblower complaint: 'That's the real story' MORE did not attend.

French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronPolice unleash tear gas as protesters take to the street in Paris Clarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump Budowsky: Donald, Boris, Bibi — The right in retreat MORE and his Chilean counterpart, Sebastián Piñera, added that they reached an agreement in concept with the countries of the Amazon basin for a long-term program of forest protection and reforestation of cleared lands, according to The New York Times.

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Brazil’s space research center, the National Institute for Space Research, released data last week showing that wildfires have increased 83 percent from last year. The 72,843 fires in a little less than nine months is a record, creating a massive threat to global biodiversity and efforts to combat climate change.

The agreement to allocate funding for that crisis was made during a Monday G-7 session on climate, biodiversity and oceans that Trump missed.

White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser marred by protests MORE told reporters that a senior administration official took his position.

“The President had scheduled meetings and bilaterals with Germany and India, so a senior member of the Administration attended in his stead," she said.

The spike in Amazon wildfires coincided with the election of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who vowed in January to develop the Amazon region for farming and mining.

Bolsonaro has rejected the data from his state agency while blaming opponents for staging the fires to hurt his image.

Trump has offered frequent praise for the new Brazilian leader, who earned the nickname "Trump of the Tropics" last year when he ran a populist right-wing campaign. Bolsonaro drew backlash during that campaign for inflammatory comments about minorities and women.

Trump has also expressed significant skepticism about climate change, which experts say the forest fires could accelerate if not controlled, calling it a hoax engineered by China.