150 million trees could be felled in Latin America if the EU-Mercosur free trade deal gets the green light

The warning from Mighty Earth comes as EU and CELAC leaders, including Brazil’s President Lula, meet in Brussels for crunch talks on trade  

An estimated 150 million trees could be felled in the Amazon and other biomes across four Latin American countries and the Paris Agreement climate goals could be jeopardized, if the controversial free trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur (involving Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay) gets the green light.  

The trade deal is expected to be a priority at the EU-CELAC Summit in Brussels this week with leaders from 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries and their EU counterparts meeting to discuss: trade and investment; global peace and stability; economic recovery and efforts to tackle climate change.  

Mercosur would be a disaster for people and planet 

A study by IMAZON shows that the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement could increase the risk of additional deforestation in Mercosur countries by between 122,000 and 260,000 hectares, according to six scenarios examined. Brazil would account for 55% of the deforestation – largely in the Amazon and the Cerrado savannah. It’s estimated 69 million to 147 million trees could be lost across the four Mercosur countries if the deal comes into force – which aims to liberalise tariffs on forest-risk goods such as beef and soy. Some 173 million metric tons of CO2 greenhouse gases could be released by this projected deforestation, putting the Paris Agreement of staying within 1.5˚C of global heating, at risk. The deal as it currently stands will favour further intensive farming, which is already driving deforestation, land grabbing and human rights violations of Indigenous peoples.  

Alex Wijeratna, Senior Director at Mighty Earth said: 

“The world’s already on fire, so it seems madness that EU and Latin American leaders are trying to sign the controversial EU-Mercosur free trade deal that scientists say will cause major deforestation, likely resulting in 150 million trees felled in key climate critical biomes like the Amazon rainforest, or the threatened Cerrado savannah.”  

“173 million metric tons of carbon could be released, fuelling climate change and putting the Paris Agreement of staying within 1.5˚C of global heating in jeopardy.” 

“For the Indigenous Peoples who have endured years of human rights violations and the loss of their ancestral lands, Mercosur would only make matters worse, which is why 450 civil society groups are calling for it to be challenged and rejected.” 

Although the possible signing of the EU-Mercosur agreement will be a priority issue in the talks held during the EU-CELAC summit in Brussels on 17-18 July, the conditions for such an agreement do not currently appear to be in place.