Between January and the end of July, an area almost twice the size of Prince Edward Island burned down, and recent reports show the trend continued into August.
Mapping environmental crime in the Amazon rainforest is key to its preservation, study finds
France and Germany have both halted any further attempts to ratify Europe’s free trade agreement with the Mercosur bloc, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Greenpeace Canada campaign manager Reykia Fick said Canada must also withdraw from trade talks with Mercosur.
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“The government cannot reward the destruction of the Amazon,” she said. “He cannot open the market for the precise products that are causing the devastating Amazon fires and the ongoing deforestation and destruction that we are seeing, and claims to be responsible for climate change.”
A year ago, Canada resisted such calls, saying diversifying its trading partners was essential and that any deal would include environmental protections.
Drone footage shows extent of damage to part of Amazon rainforest after wildfires
Canada began exploring talks with the Mercosur bloc in 2017 and formal negotiations began a year later. Six rounds of talks took place between March 2018 and June 2019, but no discussions have taken place since, said Ryan Nearing, press secretary to International Trade Minister Mary Ng.
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“Canada is firmly committed to the principle that trade liberalization and environmental protection must be mutually supportive,” he said in a written statement.
“We recognize that the health of the region’s forests is of great importance to the well-being of the planet, and we seek an ambitious, comprehensive and enforceable environmental chapter as part of a free trade agreement with the Mercosur. ”
Fick said Canada cannot go ahead with the deal and claim to be a climate leader.
Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil at the highest level for more than a decade
“Under these circumstances, having clauses or wording just isn’t going to cut it,” she said. “The trade agreement is fundamentally flawed and it must be scrapped. It must be stopped publicly with a clear message explaining why. ”
Brazil is the world’s largest beef exporter, although its meat exports to Canada are limited. In 2018, approximately $ 30 million worth of beef was imported into Canada from Brazil, compared to more than $ 3 billion of beef exported from Brazil to China.
However, in July, the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock said a free trade agreement with Canada could see meat exports to Canada increase by more than $ 1.8 billion.
Cattle ranches are responsible for much of the destruction of the rainforest as the forest is cleared to make room for more pasture. Many fires are believed to have been started illegally by pastoralists to clear more land.
While Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has deployed the military to try and stop the fires, the forest continues to burn, at a rate of about two or three football pitches per minute. Bolsonaro was elected on a promise to proceed with the rapid development of the Amazon. He pushed for plans to add bridges, highways, dams, mines and logging operations.
Firefighters tackle fires that continue to burn in devastated Amazon rainforest
The Amazon is one of the world’s most critical habitats, producing up to a fifth of the world’s oxygen and storing carbon dioxide that would otherwise cause a massive increase in global warming.
Fick said Greenpeace would spend Saturday, a global day of action to protect rainforests, contacting several Canadian leaders to urge them to renounce all trade with Brazil.
“What is happening in Brazil is at a crisis level and it will have global impacts in terms of what is happening in the Amazon,” she said. “The urgency and scale of what we have, the potential negative impact of this trade deal is particularly striking.”
© 2020 The Canadian Press