Actor Leonardo DiCaprio–backed fund pledges $5 mln to fire-ravaged Amazon

A new environmental foundation backed by actor Leonardo DiCaprio is pledging $5 million in aid to the Amazon, which has been swept by wildfires.

The foundation’s single pledge is comparable to 25% of the $20 million combined offering on Monday by the world’s wealthiest nations, at least so far, to help repair the Brazilian rainforest, called the “lungs of the planet.”

Earth Alliance was created last month by DiCaprio, who is riding a publicity wave from “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” as well as Laurene Powell Jobs, activist billionaire widow of Apple’s   Steve Jobs, and private-equity investor and philanthropist Brian Sheth. On Sunday, the group launched the Amazon Forest Fund in an announcement on its website and . The alliance is also seeking donations.

The funds from Earth Alliance will be distributed to five local groups working to combat the problem: Instituto Associacao Floresta Protegida, Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon, Instituto Kabu, Instituto Raoni, and Instituto Socioambiental.

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Brazilian federal experts reported a record number of wildfires across the country this year, up 84% over the same period in 2018. Advocates and researchers say the wildfires devouring the Brazilian rainforest, which produces some 20% of the Earth’s oxygen, who want to clear and use the land. These sectors have been emboldened by the country’s pro-business president Jair Bolsonaro, in office just since January.

The Bolsonaro administration argues that the perennial dry season is the main factor. It has charged that the global news media is misrepresenting the scope of the fires, which are photographed from space.

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The fund’s pledge comes as the Group of Seven richest countries agreed Monday and launch a long-term global initiative to protect the rainforest. President Trump sent senior aides to that meeting but did not attend himself.

Separately, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday that the world faces “a dramatic climate emergency.” He is urging leaders at a Sept. 23 summit in New York to agree to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than they promised in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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