OCAA Webinars: Experts debate possible impacts of trade agreement with EU

IPAM, Gabriela Walker in 23/02/2021

The first episode of the OCAA Webinars series (Amazon Observatory on Trade and Environment) was broadcasted last Friday (19). The Webinar enriched the debate on the possible consequences of the trade agreement between Mercosur and the European Union for the Amazon rainforest. The document, signed in 2019, after two decades of negotiations, still needs to be ratified by the 31 states involved to enter into force. Environmental issues involving the Amazon are among the main obstacles to its confirmation.

The program discussed two studies on the topic, which reached different conclusions on the relationship between deforestation and economic development – Is the EU Mercosur Agreement Deforestation Proof?, published by Imazon (Institute of Man and Environment of the Amazon), and Sustainability Impact Assessment, from the London School of Economics.

According to the senior specialist in environmental analysis at the British university, Stefania Lovo, between 2003 and 2012, there was a drop in deforestation in Brazil. In the following period, from 2012 to 2018, there was a slight increase, while in 2019, the country had a “significant increase” in devastated areas.

She pointed out that the drop was a response to appropriate political initiatives and defended evidence that the increase in soy and meat production is not necessarily linked to environmental losses.

Lovo stressed that the agreement should increase the growth of the agricultural sector and that the future of the environment in Brazil depends more on public policies than on the agreement itself. The researcher countered criticisms that the country could loosen rules of sustainability. “Without the agreement, what would it be like? Would it be better? ”, He asked.

From another angle
Paulo Barreto, senior researcher at Imazon, one of the member organizations of OCAA, presented the study “Is the EU Mercosur Agreement Deforestation Proof?”.

He highlighted a scientific article that noted a significant increase in deforestation in 189 countries, three years after international trade agreements were signed and entered into force. Imazon’s study traces a geography of environmental loss, evaluating different scenarios and the commercial elasticity of products sold in these regions.

Cautious about the unfolding of the trade pact, Barreto stated that “in fact, Brazil could produce without deforestation”. He added, however, that the country’s current political conditions indicate a real risk of an adverse effect, producing an increase in deforestation.

The webinar was mediated by the communication coordinator of the Climate Observatory, Claudio Angelo, and can be accessed in its entirety on the OCAA YouTube channel.

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