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 Full text 
Friday, 19 June 2020 - Brussels Revised edition

Land grabbing and deforestation in the Amazonas (debate)

  Mairead McGuinness, on behalf of the PPE Group. – Madam President, and thank you Commissioner for your commitment to the future, but of course we have had this debate here in the Chamber before.

Last summer we all watched as the Amazon burned, and despite our lofty words and our concerns, nothing has changed. And that’s why we’re back here today talking about land—grabbing and deforestation. We cannot take our eyes off this subject.

We’re very alarmed about the continued loss of forests in the Amazon to commercial agriculture, logging and mining. We are alarmed at the proposed law to legalise land—grabbing by the Brazilian government, which would further incentivise taking of public lands into private ownership and the destruction of more forest area. And I think we need to get into our heads the scale of this. You’re talking about an area of over 60 million hectares.

We are working on a new climate law in this house with commitments on climate neutrality by 2050. We’re leading as we should. We’re ambitious and we want to lead the way. But we can’t do it on our own.

COVID-19 will see the world’s emissions of carbon dioxide fall by 7% this year. Yet in Brazil, we will see them rise by 10% because, and mainly due to, deforestation.

Ratification of the EU Mercosur trade deal is still on the agenda. We continue to be concerned about the opening up of European markets to more beef and soya and its consequences for deforestation. Despite being told by the Commission that the deal will encourage Brazil and the Mercosur bloc to meet climate obligations, we remain sceptical.

But people in glass houses should not throw too many stones. We are part of the problem. Our own meat production demands protein for animal feed and it comes from Brazil and other places. Yet we have restricted the ability of our own grain growers to supply the market because of the rules we have imposed but have no control over what comes into Europe.

My last remark is as follows: I hope that the EU Farm to Fork strategy, the biodiversity strategy, and more importantly the review of EU trade policy just launched, will look closely at the complexity of our supply chains and the absolute contradiction between our agriculture, environment, trade and climate policy.

We’ve got to do that now Commissioner.

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