Norway threatened to cut-off its billion dollar financial assistance to Brazil if it did not put serious effort into curbing the deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, it was reported Thursday.  It came just ahead of a Friday meeting in Oslo between leaders of both countries. 

The oil producing country has been providing Brazil $1.1 billion for its Amazon fund. Brazilian President Michel Temer who is on a tour of Norway to obtain investments to save his plunging economy was reminded the foreign aid provided to Brazil was conditional on the preservation of the Amazon forests. 

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The report in the Guardian stated that Vidar Hegelsen, Norway’s environment minister had written to his Brazilian counterpart, José Sarney Filho saying: “In 2015 and 2016 deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon saw a worrying upward trend.” He warned Norway's contribution had already been lessened due to this and that “even a fairly modest further increase would take this number to zero.”

In 2005, Brazil experienced high levels of deforestation, losing around 7,335 square miles of forest. However, the next decade saw a significant dip in deforestation, with 2015 seeing just about 2394 square miles of forest disappearing. 2016 then saw a 29 percent jump in deforestation, with over 3,088 square miles of forest gone. This was thought to be happening due to Temer being close to the powerful agricultural lobby, which had been pressing for cuts in Amazon protection. 

President Temer had also made deep cuts in the budget of the environment ministry. However, he recently vetoed a legislation that would have reduced the area of protected environmental reserves, with most of them lying in the Amazon forests. This decision after Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen pressured him via twitter, asking him to not reduce protection in the Amazon. Tener agreed by replying to her tweet saying:  “Today I vetoed all the proposals from MPs that reduced the preserved area of ​​the Amazon.”

However, the respite appears to be short lived as an ABC News report suggested the country’s environment ministry could be working on a similar legislation that would lead to less protection for 1.1 milion acres of forest. The was to legalize farmers and ranchers foraying into the protected areas but could also lead to dangerous degrading in the areas, including thinning of tree density and culling of bio-diversity. "We want to allow people who have been there for a long time to continue growing and developing their work," he said in a video posted Sunday on social media, according to ABC News.

Climate Home suggested the move would in fact legalize claims of illegal occupants of land inside the protected forest areas. These areas are usually occupied for running cattle and mining operations that were said to be the prime cause for 29 percent deforestation in Brazil last year.

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Bringing down the area of the rainforest can also lead to Brazil not being able to meet its goals for the Paris agreement in which it ratified that it was committed to cutting emissions by 37 percent by 2025 and planned on increasing it to 43 percent by 2020. Currently, the country emits about 2.5 percent of the world’s polluting gases and is the largest emitter of these gases in the Latin American countries.

The Amazon Fund to which Norway has been providing aid is aimed at financing anti-deforestation projects such as satellite monitoring of the forests, and agro-forestry management to save the Amazon rainforests, collaborating with indigenous communities to achieve these goals. Ironically, Norway itself was panned by environmental organizations Thursday for allotting a record number of 102 oil drilling and exploration blocks in the Norwegian Continental Shelf in the Arctic Circle.