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US President Joe Biden pledges $500 million to curb Amazon deforestation

<i>Susan Walsh/AP</i><br/>President Joe Biden (right) leans over to speak with Colombian President Gustavo Petro on April 20.
Susan Walsh/AP
President Joe Biden (right) leans over to speak with Colombian President Gustavo Petro on April 20.

By Stefano Pozzebon, Tara John and DJ Judd, CNN

United States President Joe Biden pledged a $500 million investment to the Amazon Fund on Thursday, a sum that would make his country one of the world’s largest donors to the international conservation program to protect the Amazon rainforest from deforestation.

“Today, I’m pleased to announce that I will request the funds so that we can contribute $500 million to the Amazon Fund and other climate-related activities over the next five years to support Brazil’s renewed effort to end deforestation by 2030,” Biden said during a virtual meeting of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate.

The Amazon Fund uses foreign funds for projects that fight deforestation and preserve the environment in the Amazon, and was set up in Brazil during President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s previous term in office. Major donors include Norway and Germany.

During the presidency of former Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro, the fund was left untouched while then-environmental minister Ricardo Salles dissolved committees responsible for managing the resource.

Lula has touted curbing deforestation of the Amazon as a top priority since becoming president earlier this year.

Biden also promised a $1 billion contribution to the Green Climate Fund, which is the main climate financing mechanism of the United Nations.

“We’re at a moment of great peril but also great possibilities, serious possibilities. With the right commitment and follow-through from every nation on the — in this room, in this — on this call, the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees can stay within reach,” Biden added.

The announcement comes the same day Biden welcomed Colombian President Gustavo Petro to the White House, saying he considers Colombia “the key to the hemisphere,” in efforts to ensure the Western Hemisphere is “united, equal, democratic, and economically prosperous.”

At Thursday’s Oval office meeting with Petro, Biden also spoke to efforts to combat narcotics trafficking in the region, and “to address historic levels of migration in the hemisphere.”

Biden touted the $500 million investment to the Amazon Fund as part of the two nations’ efforts to deal with climate change.”

And he took special care to thank Petro “for the hospitality support Colombia continues to show to Venezuelan refugees.”

“It’s a humanitarian and generous thing that you’re doing,” he added. “You know we’re working closely with regional partners to help Columbia meet this challenge. It’s consequential and costly.”

Petro noted that the United States and Colombia have a shared commitment to democracy, freedom and peace together with a strong push for decarbonizing the economy.

“In the Americas, humanity has the greatest potential for democracy and freedom and the greatest potential for carbon free energy. We have a busy agenda together and work to do,” Petro stated.

Petro is in Washington as part of a five-day trip to the US to celebrate the 200th anniversary of US-Colombia relations. He held talks at the United Nations and the Organization of American States and visited Capitol Hill to meet with congressmen in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

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