Brazil's foreign minister charged Wednesday that international efforts to fight climate change amounted to a plot to destroy national sovereignty as his country faces intense criticism over Amazon fires.
Ahead of a major UN summit later this month aimed at stemming global warming, Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo attacked what he called an ideology of "climatism" during a visit to Washington.
"From the debate that's going on, it would seem that the world is ending, and that's the whole point of climatism," he said at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
"The conveyers of that ideology want to create a moral equivalent of war in order to impose policies and restrictions that run counter to fundamental liberties," he said.
"How can someone in a time of peace dream of breaking the sovereignty of a country like Brazil over its own territory, saying 'the Amazon is on fire, again'? Because of ideology, because of the primeval cry of climate crisis, 'Let's save the planet,'" he said.
Araujo, an outspoken career diplomat fond of literary references who was tapped as foreign minister by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, accepted that climate change was happening.
But he cast doubt on the overwhelming consensus of scientists that human activity is causing warming temperatures and downplayed the impact of Brazil's fires, which he said were in line with annual damage.
Bolsonaro, an avowed friend of industry and foe of environmentalists, has faced international criticism that his policies have worsened the fires in the Amazon, the world's largest rainforest, which is vital in soaking up carbon emissions behind climate change.
French President Emmanuel Macron has raised the idea of giving an international status to the Amazon and European leaders have warned that a trade pact with South America was at risk.
Bolsonaro hit back that Macron had a "colonialist mentality."
A global commission led by former UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned Tuesday that more than 100 million people in developing countries could be pushed below the poverty line without action on climate change by 2030.