Things That Matter

Leonardo DiCaprio Stands Up To Fight Amazon Fires, Pledges $5M To Support Indigenous Groups

Leonardo DiCaprio is well known for his environmental activism. He’s spoken at numerous conferences, co-produced a documentary, and promoted a plant-based diet, all to help our global environment and our battle against climate change. 

So when news broke that the Amazon rainforest is experiencing unprecedented forest fires, of course Leo was one of the first major public figures to step forward and actually try and do something to help. 

The Titanic actor pledged $5 million to help fight the growing environmental crisis happening in Brazil and Bolivia right now.

Earth Alliance will give the money to local groups and indigenous communities as they work to protect the Amazon.

The National Institute for Space Research in Brazil says there have been more than 72,000 fires in the Amazon rainforest this year. That’s up from 40,000 at the same point last year.

A statement on the Earth Alliance website says: “The destruction of the Amazon rainforest is rapidly releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, destroying an ecosystem that absorbs millions of tonnes of carbon emissions every year and is one of the planet’s best defences against the climate crisis.”

“The lungs of the Earth are in flames. The Brazilian Amazon — home to 1 million Indigenous people and 3 million species — has been burning for more than two weeks straight,” DiCaprio wrote in an Instagram post announcing the donation

Several on-the-ground organizations will benefit from the infusion of cash. 

The organizations receiving the cash are Instituto Associacao Floresta Protegida (Kayapo), Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), Instituto Kabu (Kayapo), Instituto Raoni (Kayapo) and Instituto Socioambiental (ISA).

Earth Alliance was founded by Leo and two other philanthropists in July – aiming to protect wildlife, push for climate justice and secure indigenous rights.

The Amazon Forest Fund is the group’s initiative to raise money for the protection of this specific area.

In an Instagram post on Saturday, the actor said he is “deeply concerned about the ongoing crisis in the Amazon, which highlights the delicate balance of climate, biodiversity, and the wellbeing of indigenous peoples”.

He wants the public to get involved and support the crisis too, linking to ways people can make donations.

Meanwhile, international leaders at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, are reportedly reaching an agreement on international help towards the crisis.

French President Emmanuel Macron said G7 countries would release $22 million to help combat the fires.

The funding pledge was announced as the leaders of the G7 – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – continue to meet in Biarritz, France.

However, President Jair Bolsonaro said Mr Macron’s plan of an “alliance” to “save” the Amazon treated Brazil “as if we were a colony or no man’s land”.

Mr Macron said the funds would be made available “immediately” – primarily to pay for more fire-fighting planes – and that France would also “offer concrete support with military in the region within the next few hours”.

However, Mr Bolsonaro – who has been engaged in a public argument with Mr Macron in recent weeks – accused the French leader of launching “unreasonable and gratuitous attacks against the Amazon region”, and “hiding his intentions behind the idea of an ‘alliance’ of G7 countries”.

He wrote on Twitter that Brazil’s sovereignty should be respected – and said he had discussed with Colombia’s president the need for “a joint plan” from the countries that actually made up the Amazon region.

And the fires come as the Brazilian ministry for the environment has had funding severely reduced.

“The funding for Brazil’s environment agency has gone down by 95% this year, it essentially gutted a large part of the actions that have been put in by the agricultural ministry,” University of Oxford ecosystem science professor Yadvinder Malhi told the BBC’s Today program, as BBC News reported.

“So the real thing is to look at the political direction of governance in the Amazon that’s changing under the new Brazilian government.

Many on Twitter applauded the move of Leo, who was actually putting his money where his mouth is. 

Ellen, along with many others on Twitter, were happy to see the actor put up such a large sum of money to combat the crisis. 

With that much money up, it would hopefully inspire others to take action and provide much needed aid to the fight. 

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