Story at a glance
- Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is at an 11-year high, and land clearing for agricultural products like beef and soy is one of its primary drivers.
- The rainforest’s ability to absorb and store carbon dioxide makes it a key player in the global fight against climate change, and its destruction is prompting outrage amid the growing climate crisis.
- In an attempt to remove support for industries driving Amazon deforestation, officials in major cities have called for a boycott of products linked to clear-cutting in the world’s largest rainforest.
The city councilmembers each proposed legislation which, if enacted, would require America’s two most populous cities to sever business relationships with companies linked to record deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.
Two of Brazil’s biggest agricultural exports, beef and soy, are significant drivers of the rainforest’s destruction. Other drivers include legal and illegal mining and logging that many say have surged under President Jair Bolsonaro’s relaxed enforcement of environmental regulations.
The urgency behind the boycotts is owed to the world’s largest rainforest’s ability to absorb and store carbon dioxide, one of the primary greenhouse gases driving climate change. The Amazon absorbs 2 billion tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide on its own each year.
Rallies related to the boycott were held last week in Los Angeles and New York City. Proponents also urged supporters to reduce the amount of meat they consume, regardless of its source.
"Just as the loss of trees in the Amazon can exacerbate climate change in New York City or Los Angeles, we can make real change by taking a first stance against businesses whose practices have sparked these wildfires," said New York City Council member Costa Constantinides.
Los Angeles city councilmember Paul Koretz told NBC Los Angeles he hoped many more cities would join in the boycott “of Brazil, its cattle industry and the reckless corporations profiting from deforestation, murder and climate madness."