imageWorld8 hours ago (Jul 10, 2020 06:20PM ET)

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(C) Reuters. Former Brazilian presidential candidate for the Green Party Marina Silva and environmentalist Alfredo Sirkis attend a news conference after a meeting with the Party leadership in Brasilia

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BRASILIA (Reuters) – Environmentalist Alfredo Sirkis, a founder of Brazil’s Green Party and a tireless campaigner for policies to curb climate change, died on Friday in a car crash, television network TV Globo said.

Sirkis, 69, was killed when the car he was driving hit a post on a highway outside his hometown Rio de Janeiro, broadcaster TV Globo reported citing firemen at the crash.

A former leftist guerrilla, Sirkis was involved in the kidnapping of foreign diplomats to secure the release of political prisoners during Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship.

Following years in exile and one year after Brazil returned to democratic rule, Sirkis co-founded the Green Party with fellow environmentalist Marina Silva, who came third in the 2010 elections with 19% of the vote.

Sirkis was elected to Congress but decided not to run for re-election in 2014.

He was a regular member of Brazil’s delegation to global climate change talks. In 2015, he founded a think tank, the Brazil Climate Center, that is affiliated with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project.

He also served as coordinator of the government-backed Brazilian Forum for Climate Change until 2019, when he was fired by right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, who has sought to dismantle environmental protections in the country.

“For me it was absolutely no surprise,” he told Reuters at the time. “Because I’m a militant environmentalist for more than 30 years…I’m too politically involved in the environmental struggle.”

Brazilian environmentalist Sirkis killed in car crash

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