So, for those wondering how they could help save the rainforest, known as “the planet’s lungs” for producing about 20% of the world’s oxygen, the answer may be simple. Eat less meat.
Once implemented, the deal will lift a 20% levy on beef imports into the EU.
But, on Friday, Ireland said it was ready to block the deal unless Brazil took action on the Amazon.
In a statement Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar described as “Orewellian” Bolsonaro’s attempt to blame the fires on environmental groups. Varadkar said that Ireland will monitor Brazil’s environmental actions to determine whether to block the Mercosur deal, which is two years away.
He added Irish and European farmers could not be told to use fewer pesticides and respect biodiversity when trade deals were being made with countries not subjected to “decent environmental, labor and product standards.”
And, with that growth, comes steep environmental costs.
Brazil’s space research center (INPE) said this week that the number of fires in Brazil is 80% higher than last year. More than half are in the Amazon region, spelling disaster for the local environment and ecology.
Alberto Setzer, a senior scientist at INPE, told CNN that the burning can range from a small-scale agricultural practice, to new deforestation for mechanized and modern agribusiness projects.
Farmers wait until the dry season to start burning and clearing areas so their cattle can graze, but this year’s destruction has been described as unprecedented. Environmental campaigners blame this uptick on Bolsonaro, who they say has encouraged ranchers, farmers, and loggers to exploit and burn the rainforest like never before with a sense of impunity.
Bolsonaro has dismissed accusations of responsibility for the fires, but a clear shift seems to be underway.
Still, global consumption of beef and veal is set to rise in the next decade according to projections from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
A joint report predicted global production would increase 16% between 2017 and 2027 to meet demand.
The majority of that expansion will be in developing countries, like Brazil.
CNN’s Arnaud Siad contributed to this report from London.