Twenty years ago, the European Union began discussions with the Mercosur bloc of countries in South America – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – and only recently this historic agreement was officially signed that will successfully reduce billions of dollars in costs for both sides. The EU-Mercosur deal will both strengthen the relationship with European countries by removing duties on goods and improving an integrated market system, but also by modernising the challenging Mercosur system will improve agreements with South America beyond Europe, including Asia and the United States.
The agreement predominately includes the agricultural market – namely, beef – in exchange for cars and other items all with reduced tariffs. Included in this EU-Mercosur deal is the commitment by each of the signatories to climate change with reference to the Paris Climate Agreement. The agreement included targets by the year 2020 to reduce CO2 emissions and Brazil is a signatory committed to the reduction of the global threat of climate change. The agreement ensured that all parties involved will improve and adopt a sustainable, low-carbon economy inclusive of mitigation strategies.
A sustainable, low-carbon economy. Cars? Cows? Mass deforestation?
Brazil is currently burning the Amazon rainforest at a rate unseen by scientists to clear the way for agricultural pastures for cows to feed beef into Europe, livestock already grazing on 26% of the earth’s land and even more for feed production. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) that total emissions from global livestock represent 14.5% of all anthropogenic GHG emissions, with 65% of this figure caused by cattle livestock.
The Amazon rainforest not only supports the livelihood of the indigenous communities living within them who have for centuries deeply understood and protected the forest and who are adversely affected by this situation, but countless species within are unable to cope with the pressure and violence of these changes, whereby deforestation has caused thousands of extinctions. The Amazon helps regulate the earth’s bio-system providing 20% of our oxygen and creating a large portion of its own rainfall where this hydrological cycle supports the fertility in regions further out from the Amazon into other neighbouring lands. The droughts in these regions is a clear indication of the effects we are having to this biodiversity, with deforestation the cause of increasing carbon emissions, soil erosion, loss of habitat, flooding and changing weather patterns, and ultimately the destruction of earth.
So people can eat beef.
I am astonished why no one seems to be outraged by this situation, that our future is collapsing at the hands of greedy governments who live in the present and undermine this existential threat.
It is surprising to me that despite twenty years of negotiations, the risks of deforestation to supply the beef were not clearly articulated to ensure sustainable methods were enforced to prevent the violent measures undertaken by current Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on the Amazonian rainforests that are burning at an unprecedented rate and choking the earth. Bolsanoro happens to be sceptical about climate change. There are no regulatory requirements – particularly around deforestation – that ensure measures are adopted to prevent such catastrophic environmental damage.
While the European Union has the audacity to boast that it is a champion for human rights and the fight against climate change, it is clear that they are partaking in the crises and like multinational corporations, indifferent to the global responsibility they have to commitments like the Paris Climate Commitment. They are hypocrites.
As I travel through Europe visiting incredible places, rainforests, and experiencing the beauty of nature, I am heartbroken that we are failing to protect it so that we can continue to enjoy it for centuries to come.