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Von der Leyen should look for a commissioner that brings trade policy in line with climate ambition to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C, after her trade chief, Phil Hogan, resigned yesterday evening.

One of the big files the new trade commissioner will take over is the EU-Mercosur Agreement. Its ratification would fuel deforestation in the Amazon, a region that is devastated by the worst fires in a decade and deforestation that has soared by 34% in the past 12 months [1, 2, 3]. Fires in the Amazon rainforest are used to clear the land to produce export commodities such as beef and soy. 

The agreement would liberalise trade for forest-risk commodities, including beef, poultry, soy and ethanol (derived from sugar cane and soy). This means that increased EU demand for these products could accelerate deforestation, as a CAN Europe media briefing explains [1].

Germany recently announced that it has great concerns about the deal as it is, so there is no better timing than now to revisit the agreement and ensure that it stimulates a green recovery and boosts commitments on climate change. 

Trade and Climate Project Manager at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Cornelia Maarfield said: “The new commissioner should put the current deal on ice and renegotiate it on the basis of a mandate that reflects the climate emergency as well as the need to save the Amazon rainforest and its peoples. This should be the moment for the EU to start resolving the contradictions between its trade and climate policies. Trade must become a tool to mitigate climate change, rather than an amplifier.”

NOTE to the editor

Fridays for Future activists in Europe and South America will strike on 28 August to call upon world leaders to save the Amazon rainforests. Marches and strikes in over 20 countries, including Germany, Italy, Belgium and in Brazil also aim to urge the EU to stop the EU – Mercosur Trade Agreement [4].


Cristina Dascalu, communications coordinator,, +32 465 40 80 54

Cornelia Maarfield, Trade and Climate Project Manager,, +49 170 8765 271 


[1] pdf CAN Europe Media Briefing Mercosur EU Trade Agreement (2.44 MB) makes proposals on how a new trade commissioner could reform EU trade policy to help avoid deforestation in the Amazon, including the renegotiation of the EU-Mercosur Agreement and the introduction of mandatory due diligence legislation to stop products linked to deforestation or human rights abuses to enter the European market.  

[2] August’s fires in the Amazon are at their highest levels in a decade, Unearthed, 13.08.2020

[3] There has been a 34% increase in deforestation alerts in the Brazilian Amazon in the past 12 months (Aug 2019 – Jul 2020) compared to the same period in 2018/19. Source: Brazil’s National Space Research Institute INPE.

[4] Until now, some 1.7 million Europeans signed on various petitions to tell the EU leaders that the Mercosur- EU Trade Agreement that will accelerate the deforestation of the Amazon must be stopped. The list of petitions are given below:

Campact: 526,000+ signatures 454,000+ signatures

Rainforest Rescue: 349,000+ signatures

Greenpeace Germany: 138,000+ signatures

Foodwatch: 111,000+ signatures

DUH (Deutsche Umwelthilfe): 86,000+ signatures

MesOpinions: 21,000+


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