Global cattle giants unite to ban Amazon destruction

Feature story - 5 October, 2009
Today we have good news from the Amazon. Four of the biggest players in the global cattle industry have joined forces to reduce their carbon hoofprint and back our call for zero deforestation. JBS-Friboi, Bertin, Minerva and Marfrig are going to stop buying cattle from newly deforested areas of the rainforest.

Brazil's cattle sector, which occupies 80 percent of all deforested areas of the Amazon, is the country’s leading carbon polluter.

The move is a direct result of our expose, 'Slaughtering the Amazon', which we published less than 4 months ago. Since then, we've seen an overwhelming response from companies fighting to distance themselves from Amazon destruction. Major shoe companies, including Adidas, Nike and Timberland worked with us to develop a zero deforestation plan and committed to cancel contracts unless their products were guaranteed to be free from Amazon destruction.

Today's announcement was made at an event in Sao Paulo, where each of the companies adopted new environmental and social standards to clean up their act and to ensure their products do not come from cattle raised in newly deforested areas of the rainforest. The plan will also help bring an end to the land-grabbing and social injustice that is rife in the Amazon.

The Brazilian Association of Supermarkets (ABRAS), which includes Walmart and Carrefour, was at the announcement and supports the call for zero deforestation. Governor Blairo Maggi of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, which has the highest rate of deforestation in the Amazon and the largest cattle herd in Brazil was also there. Maggi announced that the state would support efforts to protect the Amazon and would provide high-resolution satellite images for monitoring

Making it work

Measures include the monitoring of supply chains and clear targets for the registration of farms that both directly and indirectly supply cattle as well as measures to end the purchase of cattle from indigenous and protected areas and from farms using slave labour.

The Brazilian cattle sector, which occupies 80 percent of all deforested areas of the Amazon, is the country's leading carbon polluter.

At the United Nations General Assembly in September, President Lula announced a target of 80 percent reduction in deforestation by 2020 for Brazil. Deforestation accounts for around 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the world's trains, planes and cars put together. A good climate deal will only be effective if it successfully tackles emissions from both fossil fuels and deforestation.

Protecting forests and tackling climate change

There are just 62 days left till the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen. We need Brazilian President Lula to support the industry initiatives and demonstrate that Brazil is ready and committed to end Amazon destruction.  We need all world leaders to attend this year's UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, and there agree to an effective deal to avert the impending climate crisis. To keep global temperatures at safe levels, the deal must include the funds needed to end deforestation.

We are calling for developed world governments to provide US $140 billion a year to tackle the climate crisis, so that developing countries can prevent and adapt to climate change. Approximately US $40 billion a year of this should be designated to forest protection. The funds would be provided in return for a commitment to stop deforestation globally by 2015 in Brazil and Indonesia and by 2020 globally.

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World leaders must take personal responsibility to agree to a strong global deal at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in December 2009

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