By: Kate Gibson | CBS News
November 19, 2019
City officials in Los Angeles and New York have proposed legislation that would require the country's two biggest municipalities to cut ties with businesses linked to wildfires burning in the Amazon rainforests in Brazil.
Spurring the recently introduced bills are heightened concerns about wildfires in the Amazon, the largest rainforest in the world and, according to experts, a major defense against climate change. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has reached the highest rate in more than a decade, the country's space agency said Monday.
"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," New York City Council member Costa Constantinides, chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, said last week.
Both measures urge city departments to end commercial relationships with businesses that contribute to deforestation in the Amazon. Sponsors also urged consumers to reduce the amount of meat they consume.
Increased global demand for meat has led to South American cattle ranchers clearing more of the Amazon for grazing cattle, according to lawmakers pushing the resolutions in both cities. Amazon deforestation last year alone resulted in a loss of roughly 3,000 square miles — nearly equivalent to the size of Puerto Rico.
"What we eat matters. Who we do business with matters," declared Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who called the resolutions a "step in opening a broader conversation about how we overcome one of the most significant challenges humanity has ever faced."
In LA, council member Paul Koretz said at a Nov. 14 rally that he would call on the city "to eliminate from its purchasing of any products derived from the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and any financial interactions with the companies who are directly involved or indirectly involved with that deforestation," according to a local media account. He introduced the the motion to the city council on Friday morning.
In 2018, Brazil was the world's largest exporter of beef, providing close to 20 percent of total global beef exports, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in August.