Environmentalists greeted the announcement with dismay, slamming the proposed deal as a profit-driven exchange of ‘cows for cars’.
According to Greenpeace, cattle is the biggest driver of deforestation in the Amazon, with 63% of deforested areas occupied by animal pastures. Almost eight thousand square kilometers of the Brazilian Amazon was destroyed in 2018.
Perrine Fournier, trade and forests campaigner at non-profit Fern, said: “[This agreement] will open EU markets to more beef imports from countries where ranching is the main cause of deforestation, while favoring the export of EU cars, especially highly fuel-intensive Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs).”
She criticized the European Commission for claiming to champion rules-based trade while signing a deal with Bolsonaro’s “government of climate deniers who launched an assault on the Amazon and indigenous peoples”.
The final days of the negotiation were marked by tension over environmental issues. At the G20 summit, the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, said he did not want to conduct trade deals with parties who do not respect the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
However, he later accepted the agreement, saying it was "good at this stage".