Feds pushed to abandon trade talks with Brazil over Amazon deforestation

Feds pushed to abandon trade talks with Brazil over Amazon deforestation

‘The government cannot be rewarding the destruction of the Amazon’

OTTAWA — The federal government is being urged to halt trade talks with Brazil after another summer of record-breaking fires in the Amazon rainforest.

New data from Brazil’s own space agency show the fire devastation in the rainforest even worse this year than in 2019, when 30 per cent more of the forest was destroyed compared to the year before.

Between January and the end of July, an area almost twice the size of Prince Edward Island had burned, and recent reports show the trend continued in August.

France and Germany have both halted further movement to ratify Europe’s free trade deal with the Mercosur bloc, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Greenpeace Canada campaign manager Reykia Fick said Canada needs to pull out of trade talks with Mercosur too.

“The government cannot be rewarding the destruction of the Amazon,” she said. “It cannot be opening the market to precisely the products that are driving the devastating Amazon fires and ongoing deforestation and destruction that we see, and claim to be responsible about climate change.”

A year ago Canada resisted such calls, saying diversifying its trade partners was critical and that any deal would include environmental protections.

Canada began exploring talks with the Mercosur bloc in 2017 and official negotiations began a year later. Six rounds of talks took place between March 2018 and June 2019, but no talks have occurred since then, said Ryan Nearing, press secretary for International Trade Minister Mary Ng.

“Canada is firmly committed to the principle that trade liberalization and environmental protection should be mutually supportive,” he said in a written statement.

“We recognize that the health of forests in the region is of great importance to the well-being of the planet, and we are seeking an ambitious, comprehensive and enforceable environment chapter within a free-trade agreement with Mercosur.”

Fick said Canada can’t pursue the agreement and claim to be a climate leader.

“Under these circumstances, having some clauses or wording is just not going to cut it,” she said. ”The trade deal is fundamentally flawed and it must be abandoned. It must be stopped publicly with a clear message about why.”

Brazil is the world’s biggest exporter of beef, though its meat exports to Canada are limited. In 2018, about $30 million of beef was imported into Canada from Brazil, compared with more than $3 billion in beef exported from Brazil to China.

However in July, Brazil’s Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock said a free-trade agreement with Canada could see meat exports to Canada rise by more than $1.8 billion.

Cattle ranches are blamed for much of the rainforest destruction as forest is cleared to make way for more pastures. Many of the fires are believed to be started illegally by ranchers to clear even more land.

While Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has deployed the military to try to stop the fires, the forest continues to burn, at a rate of about two or three football fields every minute. Bolsonaro was elected on a promise to proceed with rapid development of the Amazon. He has pushed plans to add bridges, highways, dams, mines and logging operations.

The Amazon is one of the most critical habitats in the world, producing as much as one-fifth of the world’s oxygen and storing carbon dioxide that would otherwise cause massive increases to global warming.

Fick said Greenpeace would spend Saturday, a global day of action to protect rain forests, reaching out to multiple Canadian leaders pushing them to back away from further trade with Brazil.

“What is happening in Brazil is at a crisis level and it will have global impacts in terms of what happens in the Amazon,” she said. “The urgency and the scale of what we have, what the potential negative impact would have, of this trade deal are just especially striking.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Blank Unemployment Benefits form
Red Deer unemployment rate rises to 10.6 per cent

Red Deer’s unemployment rate rose slightly during the month of April. The… Continue reading

Starting Monday, golf courses across the province will be limited to their household or for those who live alone, their two close contacts. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Golf in Alberta limited to household or close contacts starting Monday

Golf courses will have new COVID-19 protocols to follow next week. Starting… Continue reading

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr
MLA Ron Orr pleads with Central Albertans to follow COVID-19 rules

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr is changing his tune on COVID-19. Orr originally… Continue reading

People line up at a COVID-19 vaccination centre, Friday, April 23, 2021 in Deux-Montagnes, Que. Canada's two biggest provinces are continuing to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations as they report lower hospitalization figures.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
COVID-19 rapid tests going to more businesses, Alberta truckers get shots in Montana

Ottawa has introduced new ways for small and medium businesses to get… Continue reading

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services locked the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror on Wednesday morning after owner Christopher Scott refused to comply with health orders. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)
UPDATED: AHS shuts down Whistle Stop Cafe for defying health orders

Justice minister promises to get tough with those ignoring public health orders

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks to a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday May 4, 2021. A broad coalition of MPs from all five parties wants the federal government to support waiving the global rules that guard vaccine trade secrets. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
As MPs urge support, Trudeau demurs on whether government backs COVID-19 waiver

WASHINGTON — Justin Trudeau stopped well short Friday of endorsing efforts to… Continue reading

Workers perform ground preparations outside City Hall in Yellowknife on Monday, July 4, 2011. A recent outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Yellowknife is mostly affecting children and youth, the territory’s chief public health officer says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Most of Yellowknife’s COVID-19 cases are in children and youth: public health officer

YELLOWKNIFE — A health official in the Northwest Territories says a recent… Continue reading

Statistics Canada building and signs are pictured in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
A year after jobs data leak, StatCan resumes sharing advance numbers with officials

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada has resumed its practice of giving key federal… Continue reading

jobs - T - 3-6-2020
Job search: 10 ways to make your LinkedIn profile stand out in 2021

In 2021 successful job hunting requires having a LinkedIn profile that’s current… Continue reading

Max Parrot of Canada competes in the men’s snowboard big air final at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. Parrot has won the Comeback of the Year honour at the Laureus World Sports Awards. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canadian snowboarder Max Parrot wins Laureus World Sports Award for comeback

Parrot beat out former Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith

This Nov. 22, 2015 file photo shows Justin Bieber at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles. Bieber’s world tour is facing another setback as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. The Stratford, Ont.-raised pop singer is pushing dozens of tour dates including stops in three Canadian cities.	THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File
Justin Bieber postpones Canadian summer tour dates until 2022

52-date world tour will now kick off Feb. 18, 2022

Most Read