EU beef and soy demand driving Amazon deforestation: report

05 Apr 2013


The demand for Brazilian beef and soy was contributing to deforestation of the Amazon and rising CO2 emissions, according to a report by the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, Oslo, (Cicero) published yesterday.

According to the report by the independent Oslo-based think tank, beef and soy were the two main drivers of deforestation in the Amazon. The report added, governments might be undermining their efforts to protect the rainforest by sanctioning large-scale trade and consumption of the foodstuffs.

According to the authors, the CO2 emissions caused by deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon from 1990 to 2010 correlated with deforestation driven by demand for land for cattle and soybeans.

A total of 2.7 billion tonnes of CO2, or 30 per cent of the carbon emissions associated with deforestation in the last decade, was exported from Brazil and of this 29 per cent were due to soybean production and 71 per cent due to cattle ranching, the study funded by the Norwegian Research Council said.

In recent years, researchers had started reevaluation of CO2 emissions, allocating them to countries where the products were consumed rather than produced.

''With a consumption perspective, the share of responsibility for deforestation is divided among the global consumers. What, in one perspective is Brazil's problem, is now a global problem'', Karstensen said in a statement.

Around 30 per cent of deforestation in Brazil in the decade to 2010 was due to farmers and ranchers seeking land for expanding export production of beef and soybeans, against about 20 per cent in the 1990s, according to the report.

The report said, the 2.7 billion tonnes of carbon emissions caused by Brazil's deforestation in the decade to 2010, exceeded greenhouse gas emissions of a nation such as Egypt over the same period.

The Brazilian environment ministry said in November, that deforestation of Brazil's Amazon region fell 27 per cent to 4,656 square kilometres (1,798 square miles) between August 2011 and July 2012 from the same period a year earlier.

This was the lowest since the start of monitoring in 1988.

But growing foreign demand and the Brazilian government's eagerness for economic growth meant continued falls in the rate of forest loss were unlikely without new measures to safeguard forests, the report said.

Worldwide, deforestation accounted for up to a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions from human sources, as per UN estimates. Trees soaked up carbon dioxide as they grew and released it when they burned or rotted.

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