Agribusiness focus risks rise in Brazil deforestation

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

EU hopes that a Mercosur-EU trade deal could increase leverage over Brazil’s environmental policy may prove wrong

Impacts

  • Norway -- the main contributor to the Amazon Fund -- has expressed alarm and the possibility that the fund could be terminated.
  • The environmental impact of forest clearing to expand agriculture may bolster European farmers seeking to block Mercosur farm imports.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron’s hope that the trade deal would prevent Bolsonaro from reneging on climate commitments may be dashed.
  • The new government’s easing of restrictions and penalties relating to deforestation will encourage more mining, logging and agribusiness.

Conclusion

Forest cover in Brazil’s Amazonia reached some 4.1 million square kilometres (km2) in 1970. By 2018 that figure had been reduced to around 3.3 million km2 -- down nearly 20% in less than 50 years.

Although annual deforestation rates fell to four-digit figures in the past decade, monthly figures since President Jair Bolsonaro took office show new sharp rises: according to INPE, year-on-year rates rose by 34% in May, 88% in June and 68% in the first half of July alone compared to the full month in 2018.

Bolsonaro has accused INPE of lying, saying that Brazil suffers from “environmental psychosis” and telling a European journalist that “the Amazon is ours, not yours”. Yet international pushback could scupper expanded farm exports under the Mercosur-EU free trade.

References

See MERCOSUR/EU: Trade deal will face wide opposition - July 9, 2019

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