Canada-Mercosur free trade agreement will fan the flames of the Amazon

Rampant deforestation, trampling on indigenous rights, scorching fire seasons – Canadians may think about what is happening in western Canada, but these injustices also characterize a terrible crisis unfolding more than 7,000 kilometers to the south. Now, with Mélanie Joly appointed as our new Foreign Minister and the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 being held in Glasgow, Scotland, Canada has the opportunity and the responsibility to drive decisive action.

From August 2020 to July 2021, the Amazon lost approximately one area the size of Yellowstone National Park to deforestation. In Canadian terms, that’s roughly the equivalent of cutting a kilometer-wide road from Halifax to Vancouver, and vice versa. This is the second highest annual amount recorded by the monitoring system of the Brazilian Institute for Space Research since its implementation in 2015.

These data were released recently as the rainforest enters its “fire season,” the peak period during which land grabbers, ranchers and others intentionally set fires to clear land for industrial agriculture and meat production.

Now, instead of pushing for climate action in the region, Canada is moving forward with a free trade agreement with Brazil that threatens to put gasoline on the fire.

Greenpeace Canada recently obtained notes from the meeting through an Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) request indicating that our federal government plans to continue negotiations with the far-right Bolsonaro government in Brazil around the free agreement. Mercosur trade.

The agreement would increase imports to Canada linked to deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. According to an estimate by the Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock of Brazil, the trade agreement will increase revenues from exports of agricultural products by $ 9.7 billion, including up to $ 1.8 billion annually in meat products from Brazil.

An avalanche of cheap beef from the Mercosur countries (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay) seems to worry the Canadian meat industry. Also in the meeting notes, the federal government says it is well aware of this risk and will “continue to support Canadian beef producers as the negotiations progress.” It is worth noting that the Canadian beef industry faces its own scrutiny for disproportionately high contributions to the greenhouse gas emissions of our country and inhuman labor terms for your workers.

The meeting between the federal government and the meat industry was attended by JBS Foods Canada, one of two beef companies that control almost all meat processing in Canada. The parent company, JBS SA, is the largest meat slaughterhouse in Brazil. Past Greenpeace investigations found numerous incidents of cattle raised on recently deforested land and then sold to large Brazilian meatpacking companies like JBS and to international supply chains. Therefore, the increase in beef exports from this region likely means that Canada increases its deforestation footprint in the Amazon.

Beef production is the leading cause of deforestation and fires in the Amazon, contributing to the destruction of the ecosystem throughout the region, including the Pantanal wetlands and the Cerrado savannah in Brazil, and the Gran Chaco forest. in Argentina. Brazil is the main producer of beef in the world after the United States and Argentina it is the sixth largest producer, and new documents reveal that both countries pressured the UN to eliminate or change passages in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that recommend reducing meat consumption to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Some EU nations, such as France, Ireland, and Austria, has said They will block parliamentary ratification of their Mercosur deal with Brazil until they secure Bolsonaro’s Amazon protections.

Opinion: Instead of pushing for climate action to protect the Amazon, Canada is moving forward with a free trade agreement with Brazil that threatens to put gasoline on the fire, writes @Bmwei. #AmazonRainforest #ClimateAction

And yet, so far, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not promised to stop the talks.

Far from the first match that Canada has lit in the Amazon

If Canada moved forward with the Mercosur agreement, it would hardly be the first match we light in the increasingly parched and scorched soils of the Amazon. This year, new data showed Canadian companies have the majority of foreign investment in energy and mining projects in the Amazon – many of which take seriously Implications of indigenous rights.

Mining, along with fires and deforestation, have accounted for the loss of habitat for two thirds of the species in the region, including up to 85 percent of threatened species. And for the first time, parts of the Amazon are emitting more carbon than they are absorbing due to deforestation and climate change.

The Amazon is in what scientists call a “inflection point, ”Beyond which the ecosystem will no longer be able to sustain itself and will collapse, moving from rainforest to degraded savanna and bushland, releasing massive amounts of carbon in the process.

This as the Bolsonaro government continues to advance in a series of legislation that could block deforestation of the Amazon in the coming years, including the granting of property titles to those responsible for the recent illegal deforestation on public lands and the opening of indigenous lands to mining and industry.

For Canada to continue participating in the negotiations would legitimize and reward the destructive policies of the Bolsonaro government, which have just been accused of crimes against humanity in a complaint before the International Criminal Court.

Three opposition parties, the NDP, the Bloc Québécois and the Green Party, have spoken out against the signing of the trade agreement with Mercosur in the current circumstances. So have several human rights activists, farmers and environmentalists. Meanwhile, the liberal government continues to seek a trade deal with Bolsonaro.

The 2021 elections are behind us and, while the composition of Parliament may seem unchanged, conditions in the Amazon require new protection measures. Joly needs to start running.

Brandon Wei writes on climate justice and works for Greenpeace Canada.

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