EU states call for tough action on deforestation to meet 2020 UN goal | Land Portal
Arthur Neslen
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Show leadership to halt forest loss from agribusiness, Amsterdam Declaration group tells EU

The UK, France and Germany have called on the European commission to launch tough new action to halt deforestation by the end of the year.

A long-delayed EU action plan should be brought forward “as soon as possible”, says a letter to the commission sent by the Amsterdam Declarationgroup of countries, which also includes Italy, the Netherlands and Norway.

To help meet a UN goal of halting deforestation by 2020, the EU should show “a leadership role, mobilising its political and market leverage, and promoting broader international dialogue and cooperation”, the letter says.

Actions should be taken to align “economic opportunities” with “responsible management of global supply chains”, says the letter signed by Denmark’s environment minister, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen.

Up to 80% of global forest loss is driven by agribusiness, even though research shows that better forest stewardship and natural climate solutions could provide more than a third of the climate mitigation needed by 2030.

The EU states moved on the issue as concerns continue to mount over Brazil’s recent election of a far-right supporter of Brazil’s former military dictatorship.

Jair Bolsonaro has pledged to designate land rights activists as “terrorists” and pave a highway through the Amazon, potentially spreading deforestation to an area of rainforest larger than Germany.

His election campaign was backed by powerful agribusiness interests in Brazil but some industry leaders on Sunday called on him to show restraint.

Géraldine Kutas, the head of international affairs at the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association, said the Amazon’s importance to the world – and Brazil – had to be respected.

“We are perfectly fine with our current environmental regulations,” she said. “We are really committed to them and we will not support any change that would relax the rules.”

Strong EU laws could reduce the ecological footprint of commodities such as soy, palm oil and beef, which drive deforestation in the Amazon, according to Greenpeace.

Sébastien Risso, the group’s EU forestry director, said: “Ignoring the problem and delaying action will only move us deeper into catastrophic climate change and a major global species extinction.”

EU officials noted that Bolsonaro, who takes office in January, has backtracked on some campaign pledges and said it was too soon to consider tougher due diligence checks for deforestation, despite the president-elect’s statements and initiatives aimed at relaxing environmental regulation in the Amazon.

“We had them on our radar during the campaign speeches,” one EU source said. “We will assess whatever decisions are taken, once they’re taken.”


Photograph: Bruno Kelly/Reuters

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