Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has hit back at Leonardo DiCaprio after the Hollywood actor and environmentalist encouraged the country’s youth to vote in the elections later this year.
“Brazil is home to the Amazon and other ecosystems critical to climate change,” DiCaprio posted on Twitter on Thursday.
“What happens there matters to us all and youth voting is key in driving change for a healthy planet,” he added.
Mr Bolsonaro, who has cut environmental protections, responded with sarcasm.
“Thanks for your support, Leo! It’s really important to have every Brazilian voting in the coming elections,” the far-right leader, who took office in 2019, tweeted.
“Our people will decide if they want to keep our sovereignty on the Amazon or to be ruled by crooks who serve foreign special interest.”
DiCaprio is a champion of greater protection for the Amazon rainforest, donating $5m (£4.1m) to conservation efforts in 2019.
Mr Bolsonaro has faced widespread criticism for his government’s environmental policies, and has been accused of allowing deforestation in the region to accelerate.
Conservationists have blamed Mr Bolsonaro and his government for turning a blind eye to farmers and loggers clearing land in the Amazon, which is the world’s largest rainforest.
The country’s leader has weakened environmental protections for the region and argued that the government should exploit the area to reduce poverty.
According to government satellite data, the number of trees cut down in the Brazilian Amazon in January this year far exceeded deforestation for the same month last year.
The area destroyed was five times larger than 2021 – the highest January total since records began in 2015.
Brazil’s vast rainforest absorbs huge amounts of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, acting as what is known as a carbon sink. But the more trees cut down, the less the forest can soak up emissions.
It is not the first time the two have clashed over the issue.
In 2019, Mr Bolsonaro accused DiCaprio of “giving money to set the Amazon on fire”.
He gave no evidence but has a history of accusing NGOs critical of his policies of starting fires that ravaged the rainforest in 2019.
Last year, DiCaprio joined dozens of celebrities to urge US President Joe Biden to not sign any environmental deal with Brazil amid rising deforestation in the Amazon.