The EU seems to have double or triple standards when it comes to the global fight against climate change. One for Europeans, one for the rest of the world and depending on who you are, preferential treatment for close friends like the US and Canada which are drooling at the prospect of filling EU needs for biofuels even though their crops are not subject to the same sustainability standards as palm oil.
This begs the question, if what happens to forests in palm oil producing countries thousands of kilometres away from Brussels is so important to the European Union, why isn’t it important to look at the cause of emissions from their backyard and those of their friends?
The palm oil industry could be said to be overly sensitive when it comes to the EU and its singling out of palm oil as a culprit in emissions. No one can blame the palm oil industry for being sensitive when official policies ignore the climate change emissions of agriculture other than holding up palm oil as a bad boy.
The most appalling examples of this can be seen in recent reports. The European Parliament’s agriculture committee approved a deal to overhaul the European Union’s huge farming subsidies, including “new measures aimed at making agriculture greener.”
The three pieces of legislation will govern spending from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to pay out 387 billion euros from the EU’s 2021-2027 budget on payments to farmers and rural development. Environmental campaigners and some EU lawmakers have criticized the environmental rules as weak and lack achievable targets to cut emissions. They have called for lawmakers in EU parliament to reject the rules as payments to farmers which are supposed to comply with environmental rules or “eco-schemes” to protect the environment do not define exactly what an “eco-scheme” is. The excessive flexibility to accommodate EU farmers cannot be acceptable when the EU’s position against palm oil smallholders has boxed them into a poverty hole especially in RED ll where even the acreage of a qualifying palm oil small farmer is defined.
EU Farm Subsidies Could Be Complicit in Harming People and Planet
What is more concerning about the EU’s position is that it seems to have intentionally ignored the United Nations report that farm subsidies are actually harming people and planet.
According to media coverage of the United Nations report:
“Almost 90% of the $540bn in global subsidies given to farmers every year are “harmful”, a startling UN report has found.
This agricultural support damages people’s health, fuels the climate crisis, destroys nature and drives inequality by excluding smallholder farmers, many of whom are women, according to the UN agencies.
The biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, such as beef and milk, received the biggest subsidies, the report said. These are often produced by large industrialised groups that are best placed to gain access to subsidies.”
Will the EU be able to certify that its massive 387 billion Euro farm subsidy is not guilty of harming planet and people?
For the sake of the global fight against climate change and the integrity of the European Union, one can hope that the EU will certify that its farm subsidies are not in fact, adding to more climate catastrophes.
Leaked Anti-Deforestation Law Exposes EU Double Standards
Where the EU is lending its influence to more climate catastrophes is how it is willing to turn a blind eye towards known sources of climate change. Its preferred narrative to focus strictly on tropical forests has been called out by environmental groups who called it simply, wrong.
In a leaked report, environmental campaigners pointed out “significant omissions” in the plans to prevent the EU from importing consumer goods linked to tropical deforestation.
At risk is the Cerrado grasslands and Pantanal wetlands both of which are under threat from soy and beef industries.
According to World Atlas, the Cerrado is a grassland biome located just underneath the Amazon rainforest, and in between the Atlantic Forests. With over 4,800 species of endemic plants and vertebrates, Cerrado is one of the largest biodiversity hotspots in the world.
The Pantanal wetlands is similarly described as one of the most biologically rich environments on the planet with more than 4,700 plant and animal species. In fact, the Pantanal contains South America’s highest concentration of some wildlife species, including the jaguar and caiman.
Surely these non-forested megadiverse regions with so much capacity for carbon sequestration must mean something to the EU. One can hope that whoever is writing up policy notes to guide the EU Commission has taken note of the criticisms against the anti-deforestation law. That language needs to be expanded from being simply deforestation to one that includes all important regions of the world for biodiversity and carbon sequestration. In the meantime, palm oil producing countries in Southeast Asia are hoping that the Seventeenth ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM)-EU Trade Commissioner Consultations will lead to “ a future ASEAN-EU Free Trade Agreement, while reaffirming its commitment to an open, free, inclusive, transparent, rules-based, and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system.” Where palm oil is accorded the same treatment as all agricultural imports into the EU.