Finland investigating Brazil beef ban over Amazon destruction

Could the European Union use sanctions as a financial tool to force the government of Brazil to do more fight the causes of rainforest wildfires?

File picture of red meat / Credit: iStock

Finland’s Minister of Finance Mika Lintilä (Centre) is urging the European Union to investigate the possibilities of imposing an import ban on beef from Brazil.

So far this year 73,000 fires have been recorded in the Amazon, 85% more fires than were seen in the whole of 2018 according to conservation group WWF and official statistics from authorities in Brazil.

Although wildfires are common during the dry season when they can be sparked by lightning strikes, they’re also exacerbated by farmers and loggers clearing the forest for commercial use – a practice that has been encouraged by Brazil’s right wing government lead by President Jair Bolsonaro.

Lintilä co-chairs a group called ‘Finance Ministers for Climate Action’ alongside the Chilean Finance Minister. The goal of the cooperation, according to a ministry press release, is to use fiscal policy tools to fight climate change.

“The coalition seeks to promote more effective ways to address climate change. The fields of responsibility of ministers of finance include many guidance instruments that can be used to mitigate climate change, such as carbon pricing, fiscal planning, and management of public investments and procurement” explains Lintilä.

“There is a risk that these measures will become useless, if carbon sinks are systematically destroyed in some parts of the world and we do not have the means to respond to destructive events that accelerate climate change” he adds.

Finland wants the EU to come up with some effective measures that help pressure the Brazilian government to do more to fight the fires, and also stop the cutting and logging action that makes the wildfires worse.

One of those measures could include hitting Brazil’s beef imports with a ban.

“I am prepared to raise the matter for discussion with the EU finance ministers when they arrive for our meeting in Helsinki in September, if progress has not been made before then” says Lintilä.