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Isa Soares Tonight

July's Average Temperature Passed Key Warming Threshold; Amazon Summit Kicks Off In Brazil; Russian Strikes Kill Seven In Eastern Ukraine; Biden Speaks On Environmental Action; Deforestation Declines In Amazon; Diplomatic Efforts Fail To Restore Nigerien Democracy; Sinead O'Connor Laid To Rest. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired August 08, 2023 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, it's official. July was the hottest

month on record, and the effects of that are being felt far and wide. I'll speak to Slovenia's prime minister in just a moment as his country deals

with devastating flooding. Then, staying with the climate crisis, leaders of Amazon nations meet in Belem, Brazil, for a landmark summit on the

rainforest future.

We are live in Sao Paulo. Plus, the search continues for survivors of a deadly Russian attack in eastern Ukraine. The latest on that, and Kyiv's

counteroffensive coming up. But first, on this program last month if you remember, day after day, we spoke of that record-breaking temperatures in

the northern hemisphere. All of the numbers are now in.

And July exceeded the global warming threshold we need to stay under. Scientists say it was the first Summer month that really saw average

temperatures go beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius, above of course, pre-industrial levels. And that makes it the hottest month on record, giving us a glimpse

of what's to come if we reach, of course, the tipping point.

Right now, we are seeing a massive wildfire in my home country of Portugal. That is spreading for a fourth day in a row. These pictures from Odemira in

Portugal. While South American leaders discuss the future of the Amazon rainforest at a conference taking place today in Brazil. And then this

hour, U.S. President Joe Biden is visiting the area around one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon.

And he is set to designate a new national monument and speak about his response to climate change. I want to go straight to our chief climate

correspondent, Bill Weir. And Bill, let's start in the United States and in particular, what we're expecting to hear from President Biden regarding

climate policy. What should we be looking out for here?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isa, this is really kind of a campaign swing for him to tout the one year anniversary of some

legislation, including the Inflation Reduction Act, which pumped billions of dollars into clean technology. A little bit for mitigation, some to deal

with the drought, for example, in the American west.

But today, he setting aside about a million acres around the Grand Canyon, preserving that for natives and conservationists who wanted to see that

protection set up against uranium mining. But there are some who would argue that nuclear energy should be part of a suite of cleaner technologies

of the future, and that uranium is needed for that sort of thing. A lot of it comes from Russia these days.

But just sort of one piece of the tension right now in an age when the temperatures are off the charts. You saw that bar graph where you see 2023

there on the right is so much hotter than anything science has seen before. You see the rapid need to de-carbonize the economy in our -- a lot of

political and corporate resistance on that front, and then there's a demand for all this new clean technology. It has to come from somewhere. And so,

those fights will continue.

SOARES: And of course, President Biden's move intended also in many ways, I suspect, Bill, to try to cement his environmental credentials in the

electoral battleground states that is Arizona. Let's not forget that. The state that only a couple of weeks ago, I remember seeing record-breaking

temperatures that some people were even getting burned, people going to hospitals from falling on the ground. So, people are seeing this, they just

need to walk outside and see the impact.

WEIR: And yet, Isa, amazingly enough, there are still a climate denial plank in the Republican Party. And there are plans to dismantle all of

Biden's environmental initiatives, something called project 2025 led by special interests and conservative bearers. States like Florida are now

encouraging climate denial videos to be played in schools, under the DeSantis administration there.

So, you would think that these heat domes on several continents will melt away a lot of that sort of ideology. But not the case unfortunately in the

United States. But yes, the heat in Phoenix, especially the overnight temperatures, which don't dip below, you know, 40 degrees Celsius in some

cases, are really dangerous. And there are no 24-hour shelters in Phoenix.


So, the immediacy of that kind of politics around climate change are right in people's faces.

SOARES: And speaking -- I've got you here, speaking of the politics, I mean, I know economy is number one for many voters. Where does climate

change, where does the environment fit in, in their options, in their choices?

WEIR: You know, it's funny, it comes out as a menu item a lot of times around elections and it ranks for some people maybe in the lower tier, five

or below. But it's becoming increasingly obvious that it is the entire restaurant in which all the other menu items, that is healthcare, foreign

policy, domestic security, all of these things depend on a livable climate.

And all of these things are attached right now. I think the disconnect there, it's been framed as such for so long that people have a hard time

connecting the dots between ocean temperatures, maybe in the Atlantic, and farm yields in the Midwest or fire smoke coming over the Canadian border.

But it's becoming clear now that all of these things are really related, and we've slipped out of that Goldilocks sort of temperature zone that so

much on life on earth evolved in, and we're trying to as fast as we can, evolve for the new world.

SOARES: Bill Weir, really appreciate it, thank you very much, Bill, and of course --

WEIR: You bet --

SOARES: We'll bring you those live images on when we hear President Biden speaking. We shall bring that to you, keeping a close eye on the pictures,

as soon of course, as they come in. Well, China is bracing for another storm after days of torrential rain as well as deadly flooding. We are also

seeing catastrophic floods halfway across the world in Slovenia.

Authorities there tell CNN at least, six people were killed after a month's worth of rain fell in less than a day. Many homes, roads and fields now

washed away. Estimates put the damage around $500 million. And these floods are being called the worst natural disaster to ever hit the country by the

prime minister.

And Slovenia's Prime Minister Robert Golob joins me now. Prime Minister, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us on the show. And

first of all, my heartfelt condolences to the families as well as the victims of this devastating flooding. As we said in the introduction, you

called this the worst natural disaster to ever hit the country. Give us a sense of the destruction that these floods have caused?

ROBERT GOLOB, PRIME MINISTER, SLOVENIA: Well, good evening, and thanks for having this opportunity, glad to be here. Slovenia lies at a special

geographical position where the obs -- I mean, the Atlantic Sea, and that makes for a very nice green nature, some call us a hidden gem of Europe.

But all of that changed last Friday In a matter of minutes and hours when the devastating floods hit the south.

Two-thirds of the country, two-thirds of the country simultaneously was hit by that. And at the end of the day, the devastation that we witnessed was

like tens of thousands of homes were flooded. Hundreds of bridges wiped out and hundreds of kilometers of roads totally destructed. It is a disaster

never seen before, but not even one that we could imagine.

SOARES: And two-thirds like you said, two-thirds of the country just astounding to think of that, has been affected by this record rainfall.

Have rescuers, prime minister, being able to reach the flooded areas, but that's in one area, water levels reach something like 2 meters.

GOLOB: Right. Can you imagine living in a home, and then the water comes up to the second floor? It's just out of any imagination. And as we speak,

most of the population and most of the homes has been reached, but not all. Our teams are still fighting on the fields, trying to reach those most

distant folks, still living in their homes waiting for the rescue.

We established a helicopter bridge to them, providing them with food, also with the educators for generators for electricity, so that they are able to

withstand the force of nature.

SOARES: And I saw that Slovenia had appealed for support from both NATO, and I believe the EU in terms of assistance. Has that assistance started to

arrive? And in what shape, what form is that assistance, prime minister?

GOLOB: The second day after the disaster, we immediately triggered two mechanisms. First is the civil protection mechanism of the European Union,

and we ask for the heavy equipment for civil works. And then we also triggered the fast response of NATO alliance for helicopters to establish

the bridges, the helicopter bridges, the transport bridges to the cutoff population.

And yes, within the same day, the first support and aid started to come in. And right now, we are -- already have plenty of equipment on the ground.


Some still in flight to Slovenia, but we are capable of really raising up the speed of saving the population after that. And we are very grateful to

our allies, to our friends, that provided us with help because that clearly shows what the -- both alliances, the European Union and NATO is about. It

is about solidarity and unity, especially --

SOARES: Yes --

GOLOB: In bad times.

SOARES: And we're seeing -- yes --

GOLOB: One other thing that I wanted to share, sometimes help may even come from the most unlikely places, and our goal for help was also answered by

Ukraine. President Zelenskyy immediately sent his helicopters to help us in transporting humanitarian aid to our population. And this is something that

we were really glad to see.

SOARES: Talks to the unity, speaks to the unity that you were just describing there within Europe, but also within NATO, prime minister. And

looking at these images that we're playing now, I mean, it's truly heartbreaking. What we are seeing -- and I'm not sure whether you heard our

chief climate correspondent, Bill Weir, we're looking -- and for months now, have been looking at this kind of erratic weather that has become,

prime minister, its new normal.

The U.N. chief Antonio Guterres said recently, the era -- the era of global boiling has arrived. And he called once again for dramatic and immediate

climate action. Now, I was reading a U.N. climate report on Slovenia's environmental action, and it said this. It said Slovenia went on to say is

not addressing this crisis with sufficient urgency, adding that the coal fired power plant that provides about a third of Slovenia's electricity is

not scheduled to close until 2023. What do you say to that? That Slovenia is not addressing the climate crisis with sufficient urgency?

GOLOB: Well, actually, I would say that it's quite clear where the green emission -- greenhouse emissions come from. It is energy, too, it is

transport and agriculture. And I think all three areas need to be addressed in the same manner that Slovenia really is not just a coal-fired -- coal

fire energy system, it's just a third of it, and it's going to be shut down in the next seven years.

I think that's far enough, because after that, we go totally zero emission in our energy system. And I think that's really fast. So, I would really

not be compelling -- it is compelling to say we are not doing it fast enough, but I would not agree to that.

SOARES: So, you won't agree to that. But in terms of policies, I mean, what -- the images, the scenes we have seen play out in your country, is any of

this preventable, prime minister? In terms of policy that needs to be implemented. What can be done at a governmental level here?

GOLOB: Well, when it comes to extreme weather, we just need to really look into the measures for mitigating the effects --

SOARES: Yes --

GOLOB: More than ever. In Slovenia, there is the flood protection system, we will have to improve that as well. But at the end of the day, if last

year, we had like extreme temperatures in the Summer, this year, it was not warm at all. It was not hot, but we had extreme rainfall. So, this is

something which cannot really be prevented on a local basis. It is a global thing. And so, we shall address it on a global stage, definitely, and each

of us shall play its part.

SOARES: But you are worried, understandable. It's very different last year compared to this year, but it's very troubling, nevertheless, I suspect

still. Is that what you're saying?

GOLOB: Exactly. It's -- this year, it's even more troubling because hot temperature is one thing, but having half of the country being under

flooding --

SOARES: Yes --

GOLOB: That is totally, wow, unpredictable and very hard to protect against.

SOARES: And Prime Minister, now that I have you here, I want to change tact, if I -- now that you're here and ask you about some CNN reporting.

Your thoughts on some CNN reporting that reveals that Ukraine's allies are getting sobering assessments on Ukraine's counteroffensive, with one senior

-- I'm going to read it out, senior western diplomats saying they are still going to see for the next couple of weeks, if there is a chance of making

some progress.

But for them to really make progress that would change the balance of this conflict, I think it is extremely, highly unlikely. What is your assessment

of the Ukrainian counteroffensive of how successful or unsuccessful it has been?

GOLOB: Well, I'm no military expert, but what I can see in the field is that the Ukrainian has -- that Ukrainians are giving it all, sometimes,

perhaps, they could do better if they would get aid from the allies, from the West sooner.


But what it is, now it is. So, at the end of the day, now the only thing that we can do is wait and see how the counteroffensives runs out.

SOARES: Slovenia Prime Minister Robert Golob, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us this evening, wishing everyone the very best in the

recovery of course, under reconstruction. Thank you very much, Prime Minister.

GOLOB: You're welcome.

SOARES: And we'll be continuing our climate coverage later on in the show when we dig into the landmark Amazon Summit taking place in Brazil as

nations gather, you can see there to seek solutions to protect the Amazon rainforest. Well, rescuers in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region are still

looking for survivors after two consecutive Russian missile strikes.

They happened Monday night in Pokrovsk, killing at least seven and wounding more than 80. Ukraine accuses Russia of so-called double-tap strikes.

That's when a second attack follows an initial attack. The aim here is to hit rescue teams that have rushed of course, to the scene. Here is the

moment that second attack struck Monday.






SOARES: Well, one of Monday's confirmed dead is a first responder. And Ukraine says that since the war began, 78 rescuers have been killed while

responding to missile strikes. Meantime, new CNN reporting as you heard me mentioning there with the prime minister reveals Ukraine's allies are

getting sobering updates from the battleground, specifically about Ukrainian forces' ability to retake significant territory.

One senior U.S. official says the counteroffensive is proving harder and moving slower than hoped. Officials also say Ukraine has a limited window

to push forward, as weather and fighting conditions are expected to worsen. I want to bring in our Nick Paton Walsh live for us this evening in

Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine. And Nick, you know, you've been on the frontlines of this war for us from the east to the south.

I want to get your assessment of what we heard from these western officials regarding the counteroffensive. Why are Russian defenses proving so

difficult to breakthrough?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: I think it's true to say that the Russians have had months to prepare their first line of

defenses with mine fields, deep concrete entrenchments that's made it very hard for Ukraine initially to breach through them. That's recognized by

Ukrainian soldiers we speak to, certainly.

But I think it's also important to point out all these timetable of notions of success are relative. Kherson for example, last year was liberated in

November. And so, there are Ukrainians saying, well, no, we've got two, three, four months potentially more of fighting before the ground freezes

up, and also, to pointing out that it is those first less of Russian defenses that were always going to be the hardest.

In fact, we've heard from Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the last minutes essentially rebuffing the notion that the counteroffensive

isn't going as planned. Yes it's hard. Yes, they'd like better equipment, I'm paraphrasing here. But the most important statement he makes is, we may

have fatigue in our eyes, but the Russians have fear in theirs. That they're on the move.

They have the initiative, and they hope to make further progress. It may not be as fast as perhaps some over-optimistic assessments thought would be

the case. It may not get the goals that perhaps some in NATO had hoped for, but there's -- I think there's feeling here in Ukraine of unrealistic,

unfair expectations for these early stages. And they're going to have to be allowed to have more months to push forward. Isa.

SOARES: And Nick, in the meantime, what have you seen or I mean, what's the very latest with this Russian missile strikes in eastern Donetsk. What are

you learning?

WALSH: Yes, the Pokrovsk strike has extraordinarily, it seemed to be another version of a double tap where rescue workers are targeted by

precision strikes, they hit the same place. But we've also obtained some extraordinary footage of what it's like on the frontlines, not far from

where I am in the south, when Ukrainians moved forward, and have to retrieve the bodies of those who have fallen in the fighting. Both

Ukrainian and Russian. Here is that footage.


WALSH (voice-over): Even saving the dead can be lethal work. It is dawn and freshly overrun, watching positions on the southern front, where the

assault is on trench networks spread out in the open. This is rare footage letting us see the point of view of a Ukrainian soldier and body collector

Vatislav(ph). His unit tasked with bringing back the fallen, their own, but also Russian dead too.

This Ukrainian body seeming to have almost melted into the ground, the heat speeding up decay.


Another factor in this grim, grueling work. Where they are often guided to their targets by the smell from which the masks aren't protection enough.



WALSH: Russian drones see them and they watch them back.


WALSH: Anti-drone rifles, a modern twist in trench warfare from the last century. It is exhausting work while troops here focus on survival and

taking cover, Vatislav(ph) and his team must carry these heavy but vital burdens all the way back to the road where they can then bring closure to

the grieving, the chance of burial and a goodbye.


WALSH: A week earlier, in another part of the trenches where the fight is clearly being ferocious, they passed western supplied armor that has been

torn apart.




WALSH: Ukrainian remains found, but the shelling is constant.





WALSH: The search however in these captured Russian positions is cautious, probing each spot for mines.


WALSH: For the men holding their position day and night, the body collectors, are welcome relief. Taking away the reminders of how close

death is.



WALSH: The Russians still looking for targets here among the men rescuing Russian corpses.


WALSH: It is the work nobody ever wanted to do, out, exposed in the open, as Ukraine prays for a breakthrough. Now, we finally see Vatislav's(ph)

face in a moment when they know they've survived another day.


WALSH: The relief they feel here, nothing compared to the families who may feel some less agony and closure from the cargo they return home.


WALSH: Now, Isa, one really important point that I think gets lost in all of this is, you see the density of the trench networks that the Ukrainians

are pushing through. But this is all happening without the Ukrainians controlling the skies. And so, the largest threat all day long, endlessly,

is for Russian air power and at times, the half-ton bombs they drop on Ukrainian positions.

Now, so when you hear NATO analysts or western critics saying they aren't moving fast enough, you have to remember that a western military wouldn't

even think about trying an offensive like this without air superiority. Essentially, Ukraine has been asked to do that, and that -- so many we

speak to, is the reason why this is proving slower than they would like. Isa?

SOARES: Important context from our Nick Paton Walsh in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. Thanks very much, Nick. And still to come tonight, deepening

concern in the west over Niger's military coup. Why multiple diplomatic efforts to end the crisis have so far failed. Plus, a summit in South

America is underway, aimed at saving the Amazon rainforest. We'll look at what Brazilian President Lula da Silva is hoping to stop deforestation.

That's next.



SOARES: Well, I want to take you straight to Arizona there, where U.S. President Joe Biden speaking about his administration's investments in

conservation, as well as climate action. Let's listen in.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Three national monuments gutted by the last administration, two, not so far from here in Utah, the Grand

Staircase and Bears Ears.


By the way, I'll never forget, I was standing in Washington and a little girl walked up, and I could see her daddy say, go up and say something to

the president. She walked up and she said, Mr. President, would you take care of Bears Ears for me? And I didn't know what she meant when she said

it. You take care of Bears Ears for me.

But we took care of her and we gave her the signing pen. A third of the coast of New England, in the northeast canyons, and seamounts -- look, we

designated new national monuments as well. Camp Hale in Colorado, 50,000 acres, Spirit Mountain in Nevada, 500,000 acres, Castner Range in Texas,

6,600 acres. And just last month, honoring Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till Mobley in Mississippi and in Illinois.


But folks, it's not hyperbole suggested, there's no national treasure, none, that is grander than the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon, one of the

earth's nine wonders, wonders of the world. Literally, think of that. You know, it's amazing. Enduring symbol of America to the entire world. The

first time I saw the Grand Canyon years ago, I was a young senator.

As I stood there and looked out, a phrase came to mind. It was instinctive. I said this must be -- this is God's cathedral. That's a reminder. Just

it's so magnificent. As a matter of fact, I said nine, it's one of the seven wonders of the world. And so today, I am proud to use my authority

under the Antiquities Act to protect almost 1 million acres of public land around Grand Canyon National Park as a new national monument.


To help right the wrongs of the past and conserve this land of ancestral footprints for all future generations. Over the years, hundreds of millions

of people have traveled the Grand Canyon and awed, awed by its majesty. But fewer are aware of its full history. From time in memorial, more than a

dozen tribal nations have lived, gathered, preyed on these lands.

But some 100 years ago, they were forced out. That very act of preserving the Grand Canyon as a national park was used to deny indigenous people full

access to their homelands to the places where they hunted, gathered, took precious sacred ancestral sites. They fought for decades to be able to

return to these lands, to protect these lands from mining and development, to clear them of contamination, to preserve the shared legacy for future



BIDEN: I made a commitment as president to prioritize respect for the tribal sovereignty and self determination, to honor the solemn promises the

United States made to tribal nations to fulfill federal trust and treaty obligations.

I pledge to keep using all about (ph) available authority to protect sacred tribal lands. My administration has worked alongside tribal leaders,

including many of you here today, to keep that promise.

At a time when some seek to ban books and bury history, we're making it clear that we can't just choose to learn only what we want to know; we

should learn everything that's good, bad and the truth about who we are as a nation. That's what's great nations do.

And we are the greatest of all nations. Only with truth comes healing injustice and another step toward forming a more perfect union. Folks, our

nation's history is etched in our people and in our lands. Today's actions going to protect and preserve that history, along with these high plateaus

and deep canyons, majestic red cliffs over 300 million years old, older than the oldest dinosaur ever known.

Central to the creation stories of so many tribal people, so many tribal nations; fundamental to who we are, to the way of life for the most sacred

ceremonies, ancestors buried here, eternal (ph) sources of reverence and healing.

These lands also support a range of ecosystems and plants from savannahs, to sagebrush to Ponderosa pine, a haven of ironic (sic) species like bats,

bison, bighorn sheep and nearly 450 kinds of birds, including the bald and golden eagles.

They are the historic home of 3,000 cultural sites, cliff houses, cave paintings, ancient spots that help us understand the history of these

civilizations. They also are key to building resilience to drought and climate change.

Creeks and streams flow into the Colorado River, supporting farms, the ranchers across the Southwest, bringing clean water to 40 million


And by creating this monument, we're setting aside new spaces for families to hike, bike, hunt, fish and camp. Growing the tourism economy that

already accounts for 11 percent of all Arizona jobs.

Folks, preserving these lands is good, not only for Arizona, for the planet. It's good for the economy. It's good for the soul of the nation.

And I believe, with my core and my course (ph), the right thing to do. But there is more work ahead to combat the existential threat of climate


You know, we've seen historic floods, more intense droughts, wildfires, spreading smoky haze, which you -- I could sense today, thousands of miles.

Record temperatures affecting more than 100 million Americans this summer. Over 100, I need not tell you all, over 110 degrees in Phoenix for 31

straight days.

You know, extreme heat is America's number one weather-related killer. Extreme heat kills more people than floods, hurricanes and tornadoes

combined. And it's threatening the farms, forests and the fisheries that so many families depend on to make a living. But none of this need be


From the start of my administration, we've taken an unprecedented action to combat climate crisis. Last year, I signed the largest climate bill in the

history not only of the United States but literally in the history of the world.

It's the biggest investment in climate conservation and environmental justice ever, anywhere, in the history of the world.


BIDEN: And it has many parts. For example, it will save working families thousands of dollars a year if they install rooftop solar and weatherize

their homes and also conserve energy.

And that includes a record $720 million for Native communities to ease the impact of droughts and rising sea levels, to bring clean electricity to

tribal homes. And all these historic members put us on track to cut all American emissions in half, in half by 2030. And we're well on our way.



BIDEN: We also create enormous employment, enormous growth and things that better people's lives.

My mom, God love her, had an expression.

When I lost my family, she said, Joey, out of every bad, something good will come if you look hard enough for it. And there's a lot of good that's

going to come from the sacrifices in dealing with taking on the climate crisis.

Folks, these are investments in our planet, our people, in America --


SOARES (voice-over): Listening there to U.S. President Joe Biden, beautiful Grand Canyon, Arizona, designating a new national monument at the Grand

Canyon. He went on to say no national treasure that is grander, he said, than the Grand Canyon.

He said the whole aim of this is to protect about 1 million acres of the canyon landscape. And he talked about righting the wrongs of the past, as

this is land that is sacred to tribal nations, of course, and to Indigenous people.

Now the designation would protect the area from potential uranium mining. This is something we heard from our chief climate correspondent mentioning

about 35 minutes ago, would also protect existing grazing permits.

And he said all of this is promising, is good for the planet. He want to talk on a bit about climate change, talking about the existential threat of

climate change. He talked about the record temperatures we're seeing even in Phoenix. Remember, we covered this a couple weeks ago, 110 degrees in


Talked about how his administration is combating climate action and touted his bill from -- climate bill from last year, from 2022. He went on to say

that it's cutting American emissions in half by 2030. That is still the aim and we are well on our way.

Clearly cementing his environmental credentials in that battleground state that is Arizona. We will stay, keep an eye and an ear, of course, for what

President Biden is saying. If there's more, other headlines, we, of course, will bring them to you.

Still to come in the meantime tonight, environmentalists warn deforestation, especially in the Amazon's ecosystem, is to the point of

irreversible damage. We'll have more as the summit looks to head off this looming environmental disaster. We are in Brazil, next.




SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. I want to return to our top story. The climate crisis is being felt in all corners of the world. That much, we're

told you right at the top. And accelerating the change is deforestation, leading to reduced rainfall and higher temperatures.

Now in Brazil, the Space Research Agency reports that Amazon deforestation is down by 66 percent. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's goal is to get

that down to zero. It is one of the topics he will be discussing this week as the Amazon summit kicks off in Brazil for the first time in 14 years.

CNN's Rafael Romo has this report.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): They move slowly through the jungle. Their weapons are cocked and loaded. These

environmental agents are searching for signs of illegal logging.

It doesn't take long before they find what they're looking for. Illegal logging has been a challenge in Brazil for decades. But experts say it grew

worse over the last four years, when former president Jair Bolsonaro was in power.

The commander in charge of the unit conducting this rate says the previous government only cared about solving emergency situations but lacks

strategic planning to really combat the first station. He steamed later makes an arrest.

In his first speech after taking office on January 1st, current President Inacio Lula da Silva, said one of his government's goals is to reach zero

deforestation in the Amazon, adding that Brazil doesn't need to get rid of its trees to remain an agricultural powerhouse.

ROMO: And now Lula is about to spearhead what he hopes will be an international effort to save the Amazon with the cooperation of all the

countries that host the world's largest rainforest, although almost 60 percent of the Amazon is in Brazil. It also extends through Bolivia,

Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

ROMO (voice-over): Last month, President Lula met with Gustavo Pedro, his Colombian counterpart at Leticia, a city in southern Colombia on the Amazon

River and just across the Brazilian border.

Last week, the Brazilian government said preliminary data from the country's Space Research Agency show deforestation in the Amazon has fallen

by 66 percent since July of last year to its lowest point in six years.

And this week, the Brazilian President is hosting heads of state of Amazon countries at a summit to be held in the Brazilian City of Berlin at the

mouth of the Amazon River. Lula said he's going to try to convince the other heads of state to work together in a cohesive way to fight organized

crime to take care of the Amazon and the people who live in it.

According to the Brazilian government the meeting intends to start a new stage in cooperation among the countries that host the biome through the

adoption of a shared policy for the sustainable development of the region. Efforts to save the Amazon are nothing new.

The Brazilian government has raided illegal mining and logging operations over the decades but the results have been disappointing. A study by Purdue

University showed that deforestation drove the massive Amazon rainforest fires of 2019, which destroyed thousands of square miles of Amazon

rainforest, roughly the size of New Jersey.

And according to an analysis by the Council on Foreign Relations published last year, it's estimated that between 17 percent and 20 percent of the

Amazon has been destroyed over the past 50 years. And some scientists believe that the tipping point for the die back is between 20 percent and

25 percent deforestation -- Rafael Romo CNN, Atlanta.


SOARES: Well, leaders of Amazon rain forest nations are in Brazil now, exploring ways to protect the critical rainforest from deforestation, I

should say, and other threats. to discuss the summit further, I'm joined now by the executive director of the World Wildlife Fund in Brazil.


SOARES: Mauricio Voivodic, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us. I'm keen to get a sense from you, what you are hoping will

come out of this summit, critically.

What kind of proposals or agreements do you think is needed by these eight countries?

MAURICIO VOIVODIC, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WORLD WILDLIFE FUND BRAZIL: Right. So that negotiation is still ongoing as we speak. So we expect a final

statement to be signed by the heads of state of those eight countries that share the Amazon.

And this statement will have political commitments. Our expectation is those commitments are headed to avoid the tipping point of the Amazon, to

work collaboratively among the countries to avoid the tipping point. And in order to do so, we need to stop deforestation as soon as possible.

So I think it will be the very first time that there is a common statement by heads of states, recognizing the importance of avoiding the tipping

point and then to set up a kind of an action plan to reduce deforestation, to develop policies and measures among all the countries to stop the

destruction of the Amazon.

SOARES: And we'll talk about deforestation, the action plan, in just a moment. You mentioned political commitment. There needs to be, like you

say, a common solution, Mauricio. They also need to attack organized crime, because often it's linked to drug trafficking. That requires them to work

together on that front, too, surely.

VOIVODIC: Yes, exactly. You know, deforestation has its own dynamics in each of the countries. But there are some drivers of deforestation that are

common and that cannot be stopped in one country alone.

And illegal activities, like you mentioned, is the best example of that. The illegalities, the criminalities in the region are done by groups that

they don't respect borders. So those groups doing illegal gold mining, land grabbing, illegal logging, they cross the frontiers.

So it's really important to have this kind of effort to set up an intelligence unit to really be able to investigate, to control, to monitor

what's happening. And then each country will make its own law enforcement agency. But the intelligence being done regionally, I think it's the new

thing here that's being discussed.

And in our opinion, it's very positive for the region.

SOARES: And of course, President Lula, we've known this, it's a story that we covered at great length, President Lula has made the environment one of

his top priorities, Mauricio.

Deforestation has decreased something like 66 percent in July this year, compared to last year. Talk to us about how that is being achieved.

How is Lula achieving this?

Is this the government attacking illegal mining and logging?

Or is this businesses leaving the Amazon?

What have you been seeing?

VOIVODIC: No, I don't think it's very much yet related to business. What we are seeing this for six months of this new government is really more

government presence in the Amazon.

So there has been more law enforcement. There has been more messages from the government against illegal activities. And this is a rhetoric that

comes from Brasilia to the Amazon. But that's something that works.

So I think the most important piece was that there was an inversion in the rhetoric from the federal government, from the previous government, that

was actually promoting activities that would cause deforestation.

And the new government rhetoric is now against deforestation and setting targets and the restructuring environmental agencies such as (INAUDIBLE),

that is critical for law enforcement operations, for more presence of the state in the region.

And that's resulting in a good reduction of deforestation in the region. So already, very good and positive signs. But still, there's still at least

500 square kilometers of deforestation per month in the Amazon. So we are still far from an ideal situation.

It's very important that this law enforcement operations keep happening, that the presence of state in the region is still even more powerful and

that this coordination with other countries is starting to happen to implement policies in the region.

SOARES: Mauricio, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us from Sao Paulo there. Thank you very much, Mauricio.

Well, despite international calls for diplomacy to resolve the crisis in Niger, multiple efforts making no headway ahead of Thursday's critical

regional summit.


SOARES: The coup leaders refused to meet with the joint delegation today that included ECOWAS, a West African bloc that has threatened military

action if democracy isn't restored. But it was a different story from delegations treated warmly, from neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso.

Both of those countries have also had military coups and, like Niger, are former French colonies. They are standing with Niger's junta, saying any

military intervention would be considered a declaration of war against their nations as well.

Of, course the West is anxious not to see Niger go the route of Mali as well as Burkina Faso, the French foreign ministry says the stability of the

entire region is at stake. Our Larry Madowo has more from Nairobi.


LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If there will be any diplomatic breakthrough in the crisis in Niger, it will not come from ECOWAS, because

Niger's military junta is refusing to meet with the Economic Community of West African States until it removes the sanction that applied to the

country and removes that threats of military intervention.

That comes down on Thursday, when the extraordinary summit of ECOWAS meets. But in the meantime, the Niger military junta rejecting a joint delegation

of the African Union, ECOWAS and the U.N. that were expected in Niamey on Tuesday.

A bit of this letter says, The current context of anger and revolt of the populations, following the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS, does not allowed to

welcome the said delegation the required serenity and security.

"The postponement of the mission to Niamey is necessary as is the revision of certain aspects of the program, including meetings with certain

personalities, which cannot take place for obvious security reasons in this atmosphere of threatened aggression against Niger."

General Abdourahmane Tchiani, who has declared himself president of Niger, has time to meet with other people. He met was a delegation from Burkina

Faso and Mali, who came in to Niamey to declare their solidarity with Niger.

But he refused a meeting with the acting deputy secretary of state, Victoria Nuland, in Niamey, who met with a junior officer, not with the

general who declared himself president.

And also the military junta denied her request to meet with President Mohamed Bazoum, who remains detained at the presidential palace, his prime

minister saying without water, without electricity. This crisis just drags on -- Larry Madowo, CNN, Nairobi.


SOARES: And we're back, after this short break. Do stay right here.




SOARES: Welcome back, everyone.

Finally, saying goodbye to someone who was truly incomparable.



SOARES (voice-over): Hundreds of people lining the streets of the Irish town of Bray, as the music played for the funeral procession of Sinead

O'Connor. So many singing along.

The singer died age 56, if you remember, last month. The service was led by the Islamic Center of Ireland's chief imam. O'Connor converted to Islam in

2018. In his eulogy, Shaykh Dr. Umar al-Qadri said this.

"Sinead's voice carried with it an undertone of hope, of finding one's way home."

And we leave you with that powerful tribute from what we heard today, to serve memory to Sinead O'Connor. And that is our quote of the day.

Thank you very much for watching tonight. To stay right here. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next. I shall see you tomorrow. Have a good day, goodbye.