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The invasion of Ukraine, global food security, and deforestation

And of course, beyond
the local impacts, the relationship between forests and the global climate is
well known. Forests help cool the planet through their biophysical
impact, reducing temperatures by at least 0.5 degrees as well as acting as
vital carbon sinks. Losing these precious forests will exacerbate global
warming and lead to more frequent climate-related extreme weather events that ‘contribute
to reduced food availability and increased food prices, threatening food
security, nutrition, and livelihoods of millions’, according to a recent UN IPCC report.

These are not theoretical concerns – the effects are already being felt.
Climate shocks took a toll on food
production in 2021. The price of durum
wheat, used to make pasta, soared
by 90%
 late last year after
widespread drought and record heatwaves in Canada. Summer 2021 saw the worst drought in central
and southern Brazil in almost a century, according
to Brazilian government agencies.
The drought is expected to cause crop losses, water scarcity, and increased fires in the Amazon rainforest and Pantanal
wetlands.

Yields of Brazilian soy are expected to be down as is the
sugar beet yield. Research shows that hotter temperatures which result from clearing natural
vegetation already are already costing Brazil’s soybean farmers alone more than
$3 billion each year in lost productivity. All this well before the invasion
of Ukraine.

In light of this, new rules under development in the UK
and EU to stop the sale of
products from deforested land have never been more crucial
– with key decisions due about due diligence requirements on businesses and
which commodities to regulate. Policymakers in consumer hubs must resist the calls from
industry
who are using the crisis in the Ukraine to push for a halt to environmental
legislation. Governments must not back away from
action that could turn the tide on our global deforestation footprint.

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