French president Emmanuel Macron and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar have threatened to pull out of the Mercosur trade deal over the devastating Amazon fires and the ongoing policies of far-right Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro in relation to tackling climate change.
President Bolsonaro has come under fierce world wide criticism with the international press focusing on his apparent lack of action in tackling the Amazon crisis. President Bolsonaro has deflected the blame by claiming that many of the fires were started by international NGO groups in an effort to embarrass him and his government. However, under pressure from the international community, the Brazilian government has implemented a drastic escalation of its emergency actions in the last 48 hours in an effort to curtail the spread of the fires.
According to a spokesperson for Emmanuel Macron, President Bolsonaro lied to the president at the G20 Osaka summit with regards to Brazil giving assurances to meet its climate agreements. “In these conditions, France will oppose the Mercosur deal as it is” while Leo Varadkar said, “there is no way that Ireland will vote for the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement if Brazil does not honour its environmental commitments”. Varadkar has also said that “Bolsonaro’s efforts to blame the fires on environmental NGOs is Orwellian”.
The most crucial drawback of the Mercosur trade deal has been the argument that it comes as a detriment to the environment and that the trade deal will hinder rain forests, particularly the Amazon which is known as ‘the lungs of the earth’ as it can generate up to 40% of the oxygen of the entire world.
It is welcoming to see European leaders such as Emmanuel Macron and Leo Varadkar handing ultimatums to the Brazil administration and its President on honouring their climate agreements. However, these ultimatums are of little importance unless real action is taken against Brazil. Is it time for European leaders and the EU itself to threaten to pull out of the Mercosur trade deal unless Bolsonaro changes his attitude towards the environment and agrees to meet Brazil’s climate targets? The EU must impose sanctions on Brazil because of their negligence of the Amazon basin and call off the Mercosur trade agreement otherwise it will send a signal to the world that causing a man made natural disaster with no consequences will be the norm.