Sunday 15 September 2019

Ireland 'won't do business' with Mercosur countries if they don't live up to climate action efforts

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

IRELAND "won't be doing business" with the South American countries involved in the Mercosur trade deal with the EU if they don't take part to international efforts to fight climate change, a senior government minister has said.

Business Minister Heather Humphreys made the warning at the launch of government plans for future jobs aimed at bringing about a low carbon economy.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last week said Ireland will seek to block the deal unless one of the countries involved - Brazil - lives up to commitments to protect the environment.

The Amazon Rainforest is currently beset by record numbers of wildfires.

The Mercosur deal is controversial in Ireland as beef farmers fear the impact of almost 100,000 extra tonnes of South American meat flooding the EU market.

An audience member at today's event in Dublin Castle claimed that the Mercosur deal is "shooting ourselves in the foot" in terms of the environment.

He said that the carbon footprint of animal-based foods is 15 times more inefficient than a plant-based diet.

Climate Action Minister Richard Bruton argued that Mercosr is "really exciting" because "it puts obligations on Brazil and these countries to meet their climate responsibilities.

"So it is a new form of trade agreement and it's forcing countries who get involved to take their climate responsibilities seriously."

Ms Humphreys meanwhile said the deal is still at an early stage but added: "It's been set out very, very clearly that if these Mercosur countries don't adhere to the Paris Agreement [on climate action] then we won't be doing business with them, it's as simple as that."

She said: "We're looking at the Mercosur deal as a whole and we're going to look in terms of the challenges it presents to the beef sector but also the opportunities it present.

"We're going to examine it carefully and then we will make an informed decision on how best to proceed."

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