Activists from Greenpeace UK formed a standing exhibition outside the Home Office in London this lunchtime as Brazil’s Environment Minister, Ricardo Salles, met UK Environment Secretary, Theresa Villiers.
Fourteen activists held A1-sized images of this year’s Amazon fires, which are still burning across Brazil, as well as banners reading “SAVE THE AMAZON” and “DEFEND INDIGENOUS RIGHTS”.
Richard George, Head of Forests at Greenpeace UK, said:
“It’s utterly shameful that the government has rolled out the red carpet for a man who is literally letting the most biodiverse terrestrial ecosystem burn to the ground. Putting Salles in charge of Brazilian environmental policies is like giving a pyromaniac a box of matches.”
In a letter to Theresa Villiers earlier this week, John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, said:
“As you are aware the Amazon continues to burn and Indigenous Peoples continue to raise the alarm over the escalating threats they face in Brazil.The UK should take this opportunity to carve out a positive vision for Britain, and use its leverage to support the enforcement of protections for Brazil’s forests and for human rights.
“Ideally this should start with cancelling the upcoming meeting that is scheduled with Brazilian Environment Minister, Ricardo Salles.”
Ms Villiers acknowledged the letter saying “I will be considering your points carefully in advance of Mr Salles’ visit.”
Salles, who is visiting London as part of his European tour, has already been greeted by protests in France, Germany and the US  and a leaked copy of Salles’ agenda showed he was scheduled to meet with companies with mining and fossil fuel interests, as well as people from the financial and pharmaceuticals sectors, raising serious questions over the motives for his visit.
John Sauven’s letter continued:
“Since taking office in January 2019, the Bolsonaro government has systematically attacked and undermined the agencies responsible for monitoring and implementing environmental safeguards. At the same time, the government’s inflammatory rhetoric has given new licence to those seeking to clear forests for industries such as agribusiness, and emperiled indigenous and local communities.
“President Bolsonaro and his government, including specifically Minister Salles, have shown repeatedly that they will not, of their own accord, protect the Amazon and other crucial forests. Nor will they respect Indigenous and human rights.”
The protest follows on from an earlier demonstration  held outside the Brazilian Embassy, which was organised by the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) and Survival International objecting to the Minister’s visit.
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Notes to editors:
Data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) showed an estimated 2,254 km sq of the Amazon, an area almost the size of Dorset, was lost – logged, burned or both – in July of this year alone, representing a 278% jump on the same month in 2018.
 Images of protests against Ricardo Salles’ EU tour from France and Germany here: https://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MZIFJ8F2IA6
 Images of the protest outside the Brazilian Embassy in London here: