Published On: Thu, Aug 29th, 2019

EU blamed for Amazon rainforest fires: ‘A mockery of the Commission!’ | World | News

Fires have been devastating the Amazon rainforest for weeks as logging companies and other corporations have been contributing to the deforestation of the historic land. G7 nations pledged $22million to help fight the fires and prevent even more tragedy following their summit this weekend. While much of the blame for the blaze has been placed on Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his pro-agribusiness, anti-environment policies, some culpability may belong to the EU.

Brussels critics have lashed out at the organisation for pledging to strike another free-trade deal involving Brazil.

An EU deal with the Mercosur – the South American trade bloc made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – is in place and waiting for ratification.

Various member states, including Ireland and France, have promised to block the agreement going through over Mr Bolsonaro’s lack of action.

However, trade union adviser Bert Schouwenburg has hit out at the EU for striking the deal in the first place over fears it will cause even more environmental damage to the Amazon rainforest.

EU - causing Amazon fires?

EU – causing Amazon fires? (Image: GETTY)

EU-Mercosure trade deal could cause MORE damage

EU-Mercosure trade deal could cause MORE damage (Image: GETTY)

He wrote to The Guardian: “The calamitous fires laying waste to the Amazon rainforest make a mockery of the European Commission’s claim that a blockbuster free-trade agreement with the Mercosur countries will enhance what they euphemistically refer to as ‘sustainable development’.

“On the contrary, the agreement will merely lock in the South American republics’ historic dependency on the export of agricultural commodities such as genetically modified soya, beef and sugar, much of which comes from savannah and forest land that has been destroyed by huge agri-business combines.

“Local resistance to the destruction of their lands has been met with repression and violence, particularly in Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina, where rightwing extremist governments treat their indigenous populations with contempt.”

In June EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Mamlstrom claimed the deal reinforced sustainable development from both sides.

She added: “Over the past few years the EU has consolidated its position as the global leader in open and sustainable trade.

READ MORE: Amazon Rainforest Fire: How the EU caused blazes worldwide

Bolsonaro has failed in his duty to take environmental care

Bolsonaro has failed in his duty to take environmental care (Image: GETTY)

“Agreements with 15 countries have entered into force since 2014, notably with Canada and Japan.

“This agreement adds four more countries to our impressive roster of trade allies.”

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EU Commission, claimed the deal was a “win-win” for both parties.

Mr Schowenburg’s claim that the EU-Mercosur deal will lead to more deforestation holds weight with the realities of deforestation.

Greenpeace researcher Romulo Batista claimed that global appetite for beef and soy has fuelled the Amazon fires.

He added: “Extensive cattle farming is the main driver of deforestation in the Amazon, with just over 65 percent of deforested land in the Amazon now being grazed.”

Last week Finland urged the EU to ban Brazilian beef due to its environmental effect, but no decision has been made yet.

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French farmers against the deal

French farmers against the deal (Image: GETTY)

The Amazon is undergoing deforestation

The Amazon is undergoing deforestation (Image: GETTY)

In another scathing attack on Brussels, Mr Schouwenburg added that the EU’s track record of signing trade deals with nations that possess a poor human rights record has come back to bite them.

The idea of promoting “sustainable development” through these trade deals is a farce, he added.

He said: “Despite sustained opposition from trade unions on both sides of the Atlantic, the EU continues to sign free-trade deals with Latin American states such as Colombia, Guatemala and Honduras regardless of appalling human rights violations, displacement of peoples and environmental degradation, and all in the name of sustainable development.

“Given the scale of the disaster in Brazil, perhaps the neoliberal EU will finally heed the old North American warning that only after every tree has been cut down and every river poisoned will people realise that you cannot eat money.”

Mercosur is a four-strong South American bloc

Mercosur is a four-strong South American bloc (Image: GETTY)

On Sunday revealed that the EU had been the subject of mass criticism by an environmental group over Brussels’ palm oil policy.

The EU is the second-largest importer of the product – but companies producing palm oil often clear hundreds of acres of forest in order to cultivate the necessary monocultures.

A Rainforest Rescue spokesperson said: “The EU wants to save our climate with supposedly green biofuels and has deemed palm oil ‘sustainable’.

Devastation caused by the blaze in the Amazon

Devastation caused by the blaze in the Amazon (Image: GETTY)

“Yet on the other side of the globe, rainforests are being clear-cut to produce the 1.9 million tons of palm oil that end up in European fuel tanks every year.”

European Council President Donald Tusk was present at the G7 summit as the group pledged $22million in aid earlier this week.

The money has been refused by Mr Bolsonaro, however, unless he gets an apology from Emmanuel Macron following the French President accusing his Brazilian counterpart of “lying” over fighting climate change.

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