How can the EU avoid actually importing deforestation?

How can the EU avoid actually importing deforestation?

The EU is well aware of the situation and is committed to act against it. Just recently the European Commission has published its Communication “on stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests”, in which it calls for “a variety of regulatory and non-regulatory actions” and proposes a list of initial actions to reach its two-fold objective of protecting existing forests and increasing global forest coverage. In doing so, the Commission sets out five priorities, including reducing the EU consumption footprint on land and encouraging the consumption of products from deforestation-free supply chains.

Through its trade and consumption of various agri-food products, the EU causes deforestation. In its resolution on palm oil and deforestation of rainforests, the European Parliament noted that a little under one quarter (by value) of all agricultural commodities in international trade obtained from illegal deforestation is destined for the EU. 8 Such previously identified products coming from agriculture include palm oil, soy, rubber, beef, maize, cocoa and coffee. 9

The origin of the goods and services consumed in the EU27 that were associated with deforestation (between 1990-2008) point towards South America and South- East Asia. For Southeast Asia, palm oil is the main source of deforestation related to EU imports. For South America, this is primarily beef and soy.

This trade could be expanded under the proposed EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement. Experts have well described the vicious circle of the Amazonian forests being deforested due to illegal logging of a few high value trees and the burning of other low-value trees into charcoal sold to the iron and steel industries, with the land cleared being then used as pasture for beef production. In this disaster in the making for the climate and our planet, the share of deforestation attributable to farmers, including small farmers, whose production consolidates the overall supply of meat from Brazil and its ability to export, can’t be denied.

In the context of the proposed EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement the export of beef meat is planned to increase and additional beef production in the Amazon – even if only consumed in the domestic market – frees up more beef produced in Center and South Brazil for export too.

During the Commission’s publication of the Forest Communication, Commissioner Jyrki Katainen defended the Mercosur deal by stating that it requires Paris Agreement compliance and contains a “strong, robust sustainable development chapter, which gives the EU a stronger hand to have a political dialogue on sustainability related issues”. Hence he insisted that the deal gives the EU more influence in preventing deforestation in Brazil.

The Trade and sustainable development (TSD) chapter 10 of the agreement includes indeed Articles on biodiversity, environment and climate, which state that each Party shall effectively implement the Paris Agreement, which both blocs signed. Nevertheless there are today no further concrete instructions or control/reporting mechanisms on the ‘how’ part within the Agreement. The Paris Agreement includes a pledge to stop illegal deforestation in the Amazon by 2030, but the opposite is happening.

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O artigo foi publicado originalmente em Farm Europe.

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