EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement: deforestation would increase by at least 25 per cent

18 September 2020 

Deforestation would increase by at least 25 per cent per annum if the EU-Mercosur trade agreement is passed, a new report has warned.  

The statistic was revealed in a French-government-commissioned analysis and equated the total loss of anticipated forest per year to be nearly equally to the size of the Netherlands. 

The figure also does not include the additional land that would be needed to feed livestock or the expansion of sugar cane. 

Climate costs would outweigh any economic benefits when deforestation is taken into account and the agreement is also set to have a minimal impact on the real income of European citizens, the report finds.  

The trade agreement, according to Cornelia Maarfield of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, should be “put on ice and renegotiated on the basis of a mandate that reflects the climate emergency as well as the need to save the Amazon rainforest and its peoples”. 

In light of the Commission’s proposed increase of the bloc’s 2030 climate targets, Ms Maarfield stressed, “now is the time to align all EU policies including trade with the new goal”. 

“We cannot be in a situation where we reduce emissions at home and conclude trade agreements that increase emissions abroad and thus further worsen the biodiversity and climate crises,” she said. 

The agreement, if passed by the European Council, would allow for the free trade of beef, amongst other products, between the EU and Mercosur countries, namely Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. 

A consensus in the Council is needed on the agreement, and it must then be voted on by the European Parliament, followed by a subsequent ratification from all Member States. 

The government has committed to an “economic and sustainability assessment” of the deal in order to “inform future action in this area”. 

To date, however, no such assessment has been published. 

A “direct contradiction” 

A growing number of studies have continued to highlight that the proposed deal would thwart climate efforts outlined in the European Green Deal. 

A group of researchers led by the University of Oxford and the Nature Conservancy found earlier this month that the proposed agreement is a “direct contradiction” to the goals of the programme. 

The protection of local communities, the ability to trace the origins of commodities, and the capacity to enforce sustainability standards are lacking throughout the deal, the authors concluded. 

In particular, the lack of mechanisms to trace the origin of commodities like beef and soy run a “high risk” of driving deforestation. 

About the Author

Kayle Crosson