EU imports have contributed in 2017 to 16% of deforestation related to international trade in the world, making it the second largest responsible for “imported deforestation” after China, denounces a WWF report on Wednesday.
Through imports of soybeans, palm oil, beef, wood products, cocoa and coffee, the EU indirectly contributed in 2017 to the disappearance of 203,000 hectares of tropical forests, converted into agricultural land, according to the environmental organization.
This is equivalent to 116 million tons of CO2, or Belgium’s total greenhouse gas emissions that year, says the report, based on an analysis of satellite images and agricultural and trade statistics.
International trade in agricultural products led to the removal of 1.3 million hectares of tropical forest in 2017 and the emission of 740 million tonnes of CO2, or the equivalent of a fifth of the EU’s emissions that year.
China’s imports account for 24% of that deforestation. In contrast, the impact was much less for imports from India (9%), the United States (7%) and Japan (5%).
Between 2005 and 2017 the eight main economies of the EU (Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Poland) were responsible for 80% of the bloc’s “imported deforestation”, the report clarifies.
“Tropical deforestation and the conversion of ecosystems associated with imports are a quantifiable measure, and can no longer be ignored,” insists Michael Lathuillière, head of the “supply chain mapping” team at the Stockholm Environment Institute. .
Their data, on which the WWF report was based, establish “clear links between EU consumption, especially of soybeans and beef, and the disappearance not only of forests, but also of wetlands and grasslands in South America, “he insists.
In fact, in 2018, around 23% of European soybean imports – destined essentially to feed livestock – came from the Cerrado savanna (Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia), one of the most threatened regions on the continent, according to WWF .
“For now, the EU is part of the problem, but with the appropriate legislation we can be part of the solution,” says Anke Schulmeister-Oldenhove, director of the NGO for forests.
In October, MEPs voted on a report asking the European Commission for more measures against deforestation, strengthening the traceability of products that could contribute to it and demanding that it be taken into account in trade agreements.