According to a report by the World Wide Fund for Nature, imports from EU countries in 2017 accounted for 16% of international trade-related deforestation, making the EU the world’s second largest producer of “deforestation due to imports” after China .
The World Environment Organization says that by importing soybeans, palm oil, beef, as well as timber, cocoa and coffee products, the EU indirectly contributed to the disappearance of the 203,000 hectares of tropical forests that were converted into agricultural land in 2017.
According to a report based on a detailed analysis of satellite imagery and agricultural and commercial statistics, this figure is equivalent to 116 million tons of carbon dioxide, which is Belgium’s total greenhouse gas emissions that year.
Overall, the international trade of agricultural products in 2017 resulted in 1.3 million hectares of tropical forests being cleared, and carbon dioxide emissions amounted to 740 million tons.
China’s imports account for 24% of global deforestation, while imports from countries such as India (9%), the United States (7%) and Japan (5%) have a much smaller impact.
According to the WWF report, between 2005 and 2017, the eight major EU countries-Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Poland-accounted for 80% of “import-caused In addition, France alone imports an average of 26,300 hectares of tropical forest each year.
Michael Lathuillière, head of the Stockholm Institute’s supply chain mapping team, said: “Tropical deforestation and ecosystem changes are closely related to the import process and are no longer ignored.”
His data included in a report by the World Wide Fund for Nature stated that “there is a clear link between consumption in EU countries (especially soybeans and beef) and the disappearance of forests, wetlands and low vegetation in South America.”
According to WWF data, in 2018, about 23% of European soybean imports came from the Cerrado Prairie region, which is spread across Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, and is considered one of the most endangered areas on the continent.
Anke Schulmeister-Oldenhoff, the head of the non-governmental organization in charge of forest affairs, said: “At present, the European Union has become part of this problem, but with the right laws, we can be part of the solution. .”
Members of the European Parliament voted on a report in October that called on the European Commission to strengthen the EU’s measures on deforestation and strengthen control of the origin of products. Brussels is expected to take this into account in its trade agreement.