Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva revealed Saturday that King Charles III, a staunch defender of the environment, had personally asked him to "take care of the Amazon." Lula and the monarch met at Buckingham Palace on Friday evening, on the eve of the latter's coronation.
The first thing the king told me was that I had to take care of the Amazon. I told him: 'I need help,'" said the president of the country that is home to more than 60% of the largest rainforest on the planet at a press conference in London.
Greenhouse gas emission debt
On Friday, after a meeting between Lula and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the United Kingdom pledged 80 million pounds (about 92 million euros) to the Amazon Fund, created in 2008 to preserve the forest, and of which Norway is the main donor. Brazil's president on Saturday urged developed countries to "take the climate issue very seriously."
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As he did in November at COP-27 in Egypt, he sharply criticized developed countries for failing to deliver on their 2009 pledge of $100 billion a year in climate aid for climate change adaptation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the poorest countries.
Those countries that destroyed their forests during their industrialization 200 years ago need to understand that they have a debt in terms of carbon emissions, and they have to pay that debt so that we can preserve our forest," he added.
'Question of honour'
Returning to power for a third term in January, Lula, who had previously presided over the country from 2003 to 2010, promised to make Amazon conservation a priority and end illegal deforestation by 2030. "It's a matter of honour," he insisted in London.
Under the presidency of his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro, average annual deforestation in the Amazon has increased by 75% compared to the previous decade. At the coronation, Lula met briefly with French President Emmanuel Macron. "I told him we had to talk about Ukraine, and we agreed to talk about it on the phone," he said.
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He also announced that one of his close advisers, Celso Amorim, would visit Ukraine on May 10, after a visit to Moscow last month. Lula has been heavily criticized in recent weeks by the West for telling Beijing that responsibility for the conflict is shared between Ukraine and Russia.