EU consumption results in high carbon emissions from tropical deforestation, studies show

It’s a good thing they’re not trying to control lives or central planning or some such~ctm

Chalmers University of Technology

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Emissions sources for deforestation-related carbon dioxide emissions are diverse and vary by region. Emissions embodied in production are shown for each commodity group within each region. A region’s width on the x-axis corresponds to the embodied emissions produced in that region, while the y-axis shows the share of emission attributed to each commodity group within each region, implying that the rectangles within the plot are scaled according to the emissions embodied in each region-commodity combination. The percentages within the rectangles indicate the share of the total embodied emissions; 2.6?gigatonnes of carbon dioxide due to tropical deforestation during the period 2010-2014.
Credit: Florence Pendrill, Chalmers University of Technology

A sixth of all emissions resulting from the typical diet of an EU citizen can be directly linked to deforestation of tropical forests. Two new studies, from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, shed new light on this impact, by combining satellite imagery of the rainforest, global land use statistics and data of international trade patterns.

“In effect, you could say that the EU imports large amounts of deforestation every year. If the EU really wants to achieve its climate goals, it must set harder environmental demands on those who export food to the EU,” says Martin Persson from Chalmers, one of the researchers behind the studies.

The link between production of certain foods and deforestation has been known before. But what Martin Persson and Chalmers colleague Florence Pendrill have now investigated is the extent to which deforestation in the tropics is linked to food production, and then where those foods are eventually consumed. In the first study, they focused on how the expansion of cropland, pastures, and forestry plantations has taken place at the expense of the rainforest.

“We can see that more than half of deforestation is due to production of food and animal feed, such as beef, soy beans and palm oil. There is big variation between different countries and goods, but overall, exports account for about a fourth of that deforestation which is connected to food production. And these figures have also increased during the period we looked at,” says Florence Pendrill.

Using this information, the researchers investigated, in the second study, the amount of carbon dioxide emissions resulting from this production (see the picture below), and where the produce is then consumed. The figures for the EU are particularly interesting, since the EU is a large food importer. Furthermore, the EU shall soon present a plan for how to reduce its contribution to deforestation.

The EU already has strict requirements in place connected to deforestation which producers of timber and wood products must adhere to in order to export their goods to the EU. This demonstrates their ability to influence other countries’ work in protecting the rainforest.

“Now, as the connection between food production and deforestation is made clearer, we should start to discuss possibilities for the EU to adopt similar regulations for food imports. Quite simply, deforestation should end up costing the producer more. If you give tropical countries support in their work to protect the rainforest, as well as giving farmers alternatives to deforestation to increase production, it can have a big impact,” says Florence Pendrill.

The current studies were done in collaboration with researchers from the Stockholm Environment Institute in Sweden, Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre in Germany, and NTNU, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. They are a continuation of research which was done through the Prince project (Policy Relevant Indicators for National Consumption and Environment), where the connections between Swedish consumption and emissions from deforestation were presented in the autumn.

The studies indicate that, although there is a big variation between different EU countries, on average a sixth of the emissions from a typical EU diet can be directly traced back to deforestation in the tropics. Emissions from imports are also high when compared with domestic agricultural emissions. For several EU countries, import emissions connected to deforestation are equivalent to more than half of the emissions from their own, national agricultural production.

“If the EU really wants to do something about its impact on the climate, this is an important emissions source. There are big possibilities here to influence production so that it avoids expanding into tropical forests,” says Martin Persson.

Above all, Martin Persson believes the responsibility for achieving these changes lies with bigger actors, such as countries and large international organisations. But he also sees a role for the consumer to get involved and have an influence.

“Public opinion is vital for the climate question – not least in influencing politicians, but also commercially. We can see already that several companies have made commitments to protecting tropical forests, through voluntarily pledging to avoid products which are farmed on deforested land. And in large part, that results from the fact that popular opinion is so strong on this issue,” he concludes.

More information on: Carbon dioxide emissions due to tropical deforestation:

For the period 2010-2014, the researchers estimate net emissions of 2.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide due to deforestation associated to the expansion of croplands, pastures and forestry plantations in the tropics. The main commodity groups associated with these emissions were cattle meat (0.9 gigatonnes of CO2) and oilseed products (including both palm oil and soybeans; 0.6 gigatonnes of CO2).

There are large geographic variations in what commodities are associated with deforestation-related emissions. In Latin America, cattle meat is the dominant contributor (0.8 gigatonnes of CO2), mainly attributed to Brazilian production. In Indonesia almost half of the emissions (0.3 gigatonnes of CO2) come from oilseeds (mainly oil palm). In the rest of Asia-Pacific and Africa, a more diverse mix of commodities drives emissions from deforestation.

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Link to the first study, “Deforestation displaced: trade in forest-risk commodities and the prospects for a global forest transition”: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab0d41

Link to the second study, “Agricultural and forestry trade drives large share of tropical deforestation emissions”: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378018314365

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35 thoughts on “EU consumption results in high carbon emissions from tropical deforestation, studies show

    • And others. This is why brexit is so popular despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the totalitarian EU lovers.

    • Its the biofuel programs that are causing major deforestation. They have been clear-cutting jungle and putting in monoculture palm plantations. That forces anyone who actually wants to grow food to also take down trees.

      Get rid of the biofuel stupidity and the deforestation will almost stop. And, for that matter, it would free up 40% of the US corn crop, which currently goes to alcohol production for gasohol. There is no upside to gasohol, except for the cronies who make a fortune off a government mandate to put alcohol in our gasoline. It’s bad for our engines, costs more than it is worth, and gets less mileage.

      • BINGO! “Biofuel” bullshit is what started the stupidity of tearing down rain forests for “plantations,” when there’s perfectly good OIL for conversion into fuels. And the ethanol boondoggle is nothing more than pandering to farm lobbies that like the “forced” demand.

        • Couldn’t agree more, 100% accurate.

          The destruction of rain forest habitat in favor of Palm Oil production is a scandal that needs to be further exposed. The green maroons don’t get it that the feeling they get from being “green” in Europe while simultaneously destroying rain forest in Malaysia is absolutely counterproductive.

          They have a bounty on Orangutans because they like to eat off the Palm Oil trees, the hunters only need to bring back their severed left hands to get paid…….

  1. Our tropical forests here in Oz are fine.

    That is because we are rich enough to care about them. That is because of the widespread use of fossil fuels.

    Go figure…

    • Patrick Moore made an interesting observation.
      He referred to Haiti where houses are made of cement mostly and then comments that there are no trees in Haiti because there is no demand for wood construction for wood frame homes. If homes were made of wood he postulated that there would be a thriving forest industry resulting from a demand supply cycle supporting the creation and maintenance of same.

    • …and you will see that it’s a joke. Pure greenwashing and virtue signaling. Try again.

      • I wish they didn’t make every effing cookie from palm oil. It’s worse than butter and tastes crsp.

  2. “Quite simply, deforestation should end up costing the producer more.”
    If it costs the producer more, the cost will simply pass on to the consumer. Probably in the form of one of the many taxes the EU has lined up to inflict on its unsuspecting masses when the EU Commission enacts the Five Presidents’ Report in Treaty form.
    It’s very simple, the EU28 (hopefully soon to be 27) indigenous population has a declining birth-rate/population. https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Population_and_population_change_statistics#EU-28_population_continues_to_grow
    The current increase in population is entirely driven by immigration, although the rate has slowed. Stop depopulating the rest of the world to prop up fictitious EU “GNP/GDP growth” and this particular problem will stabilise overnight. (Provided our individual dietary requirements remain static, of course!)

  3. Not to be too harsh, but STARVE’M ALL. That’ll reduce the pressure on the rainforests and cut down drastically on the noise we continuously hear about over population.

    As if necessary… /sarc

  4. “Public opinion is vital for the climate question – not least in influencing politicians, but also commercially.

    How’s public opinion going in France for example?

    Next step: bulletproof yellow vests?

  5. What utter and total BS.
    The EU produces much more than 100% of it’s own food supply. We are talking here about food, not some vegetable oil for cars or anything. We do not eat palm-oil, we use olive-oil and sunflower oil, all locally grown since millennia. Maybe palm-oil is used in health products like soap. We do not eat that.
    Sub-tropical food comes from the southern states and from just across the Med.

    Soy beans? LOL. Some Antifa people and greens eat that stuff, not a major import. Maize comes from EU or US and is used for direct consumption as well as animal feed. But soy beans, no thank you.

    Lots of ‘tropical’ fruits come from greenhouses, especially NL. Except for maybe bananas.
    The beef, if imported at all because we produce more than enough, comes from pampas in Argentina, not anywhere near a tropical rain-forest.

    I have a hard time thinking of any food that comes from anywhere near a tropical forest.
    We do not eat hard-wood.

    “The figures for the EU are particularly interesting, since the EU is a large food importer. ”
    LMAO, ever heard of the mountains of butter, milk lakes and wine seas? Now we have reduced those subsidies, but last time I checked the EU was still a net-exporter of food or imports equaled exports.

    https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-eurostat-news/-/EDN-20171016-1

    In 2016, the European Union (EU) imported almost 93 million tonnes of food from outside the EU, worth a total of €101 billion. … On the other hand, in 2016 the EU exported 91 million tonnes of food outside of its borders.

    The EU Member States sent €8 billion of food to the United States in 2016 (10% of total extra-EU exports of food in value). Other major destinations were China (€7.5 billion, 9%), Switzerland (€5.6 billion, 7%), Japan and Saudi Arabia (€3.8 billion each, 4%).

    Imports of food into the EU from countries located outside the EU came mainly from Brazil (€9 billion, or 9% of total extra-EU food imports), the United States (€7 billion, 7%) and Norway (€6.8 billion, 7%), followed by Argentina (€5.4 billion, 5%), China (€4.8 billion, 5%) and Turkey (€4.5 billion, 4%).”

    Apart from Brazil (banana’s) I see no countries with rain-forests. How many new banana plantations does Delmonte manage to create in the Brazilian rain-forest each year? One? Zero? I mean come on.

    I give this 4 Pinocchio’s.

    • From your own link “In 2016, the European Union (EU) imported almost 93 million tonnes of food from outside the EU, worth a total of €101 billion. …

      On the other hand, in 2016 the EU exported 91 million tonnes of food outside of its borders. These exports were worth €84 billion.”

      That is a net import of 2 million tonnes worth €17 billion.

    • The ingredients list of many foods in the UK includes “palm oil”. Where it says “vegetable oil” I’m suspicious.

  6. More model fantasy using extreme assumptions as inputs.

    “The first two steps employ a methodology for calculating land-use change carbon footprints developed proposed by Persson et al. (2014b), and use a simple land-balance model that attributes forest loss to major land uses and crop groups across the tropics (Pendrill et al., 2019).

    For the third step we use two complementary models: (a) a physical trade (PT) model based on bilateral trade data (Kastner et al., 2011b) that provides an understanding of the physical, country-to-country linkages between deforestation, production and trade in agricultural commodities, and (b) a new version of the environmentally-extended multi-regional input output model (MRIO) EXIOBASE3 (Stadler et al., 2018; Wood et al., 2015), that also accounts for indirect linkages between deforestation and consumption throughout the whole economy.

    Doom is preprogrammed into the models. Enjoy!

  7. I like where this is going…

    EU should immediately pass a law that only food grown on farm land that has existed in that state for at least 50 years can be imported. Then watch as they have to buy more and more food from the U.S. The trade gap narrows. All are happy!

    Heck, they already import our waste wood (wood pellets).

    They need to close down all of their evil petrol-chemical plants that produce the satanist plastics as well – then import that from the U.S. as well since everyone knows we are evil anyway.

    I think the U.K. is smart for trying to run away from this union (EU). They are a self-destructive bunch.

    • Robert, you are under the impression (only because that is what your government told you) that we import your waste wood as pellets. We do not. Although Drax was the cleanest and most efficient coal burning power station in the UK, its boilers are, one by one, converting to wood pellets which EU regulations construe as “sustainable”. The “carbon cost” (sorry, I hate using that phrase) of pellet manufacture, train transport to port and shipping three and a half thousand miles is not included in the EU calculation as they are not incurred within EU countries. We have so far spent over $1b on this conversion with annual subsidies of approximately half that or more and 8 million tonnes of pellets are consumed per annum.

      That requires importing wood equating to 1.5 times the entire UK’s annual home wood production. That is not “waste wood” – that is wholesale forest destruction. Just search Drax wood burning or go to this extremely Green site for further information: https://www.dogwoodalliance.org/2012/11/new-report-discredits-uk-energy-company-claims-that-pellets-come-from-wood-waste/
      Sometimes we have to keep strange bedfellows.

  8. “…emissions from a typical EU diet…”

    This seems clumsily phrased in a humorous manner–are we speaking of GHG emissions at the point of food production or consumption?

    • “…emissions from a typical EU diet…”

      This seems clumsily phrased in a humorous manner–are we speaking of GHG emissions at the point of food production or consumption?

      That’s actually irrelevant I think, as this is just about this:

      A sixth of all emissions resulting from the typical diet of an EU citizen can be directly linked to deforestation of tropical forests. Two new studies, from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, shed new light on this impact, by combining satellite imagery of the rainforest, global land use statistics and data of international trade patterns.

      Which is demonstrable nonsense as the only potential food of note which may indirectly cause loss of rain-forest are Brazilian bananas… Which (bananas) do not amount to 16.67% of the average EU diet.

      That is assuming that new plantations are built, which happens rarely nowadays. Otherwise even the bananas have zero impact, unless we include potential damage from pesticides. But I’m not aware that Brazilians are using Agent Orange instead of standard pesticides. Even when they use (say) DDT then any nearby rain-forest should survive.

      And all normal GHC emissions (at least H20, CH4–>CO2 and CO2) do not deforest forests but make them grow better.

  9. More anti-meat propaganda, when the real culprit is “biofuels,” an unnecessary cancer birthed by the climate fascists to begin with to, you know, “save us” from perfectly good fossil fuels.

  10. But, but, biofuels are heping to “save the planet”. Sometimes you have to destroy the planet in order to save it.

  11. Couldn’t agree more, 100% accurate.

    The destruction of rain forest habitat in favor of Palm Oil production is a scandal that needs to be further exposed. The green maroons don’t get it that the feeling they get from being “green” in Europe while simultaneously destroying rain forest in Malaysia is absolutely counterproductive.

    They have a bounty on Orangutans because they like to eat off the Palm Oil trees, the hunters only need to bring back their severed left hands to get paid…….

  12. Typical green imperialism.

    Here in the UK, and many other countries in the EU, we cut down a lot of our forests many centuries ago to turn it over to agricultural production. The hypocrisy does not go unnoticed by people in poorer nations who cannot yet afford western environmental fantasies. It’s probably only the imbalance in wealth and power that makes them bite their tongues.

    • Trees were felled for many reasons, agriculture being but one in the UK. A warship such as Henry Vlll’s Mary Rose used over 1,000 mature (250 years+) oaks in construction, this quantity doubled per ship over the next 200 years. All metal ore was processed using charcoal. Very little attempt was made to replenish forest stock in those times, as you observe much of the cleared land was used for agriculture.
      Yes, developing countries have every right to point to our history, but the world has a plentiful supply of coal, oil and gas and WITH OUR HELP they would be able to bypass our historic pre-coal development preserving their tree cover. Instead of that western countries are following a green agenda limiting cheap power availability so 2 billion people will carry on cooking/heating with animal dung and wood. Until, of course, the Chinese step in.

  13. “The figures for the EU are particularly interesting, since the EU is a large food importer.”
    ___________________________________________________

    while germany destroys the african economy:

    African women want to sell their own chickens on the markets.

    But because the WHO claims “red meat is carcinogenic” –

    As WHO claims glyphosate is carcinogenic

    and the German women fantasize about the fat around their hips being 1: 1 fat from meat consumption

    German chicken breeders sell wings and thighs to Africa, ruining 3rd world economy.
    ___________________________________________________

    Animal fat from meat consumption is consumed 1: 1 as energy. However, when the pancreas is exhausted after ~ 40 years according to evolutionary experience, the fat is really attached to the hips, abdomen, and water-swollen legs: the onset of old-age diabetes.

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