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EU Driving Mining-related Deforestation

The EU is one of the biggest drivers of deforestation by mining for raw materials such as coal, gold and copper, a new report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Vienna University of Economics and Business found. It said 14% of mining-related deforestation can be attributed to the EU – putting it behind China (18%) and ahead of the US (12%). Within the EU, Germany is the largest importer of outputs from mining-related deforestation – between 2000 and 2020, raw materials imported into the country consumed an area of forest as large as Malta, the report noted. The sector with the largest deforestation footprint within Germany is the automotive industry (17%), followed by mechanical and plant engineering (11%) and lignite mining (9%). While demand for raw materials is concentrated in industrialised countries in the Global North and emerging economies in Asia, extraction is destroying forests in a few countries, primarily in the Global South. The report found that over 80% of mining-related deforestation over the past two decades has taken place in ten countries, most notably in Indonesia, Brazil and Russia. The countries with the highest proportion of mining-related deforestation are Suriname (29%) and Guyana (21%). “Our hunger for raw materials is destroying forests elsewhere, poisoning groundwater and robs people and animals of their livelihoods,” said Tobias Kind-Rieper, Global Lead on Mining and Metals at WWF Germany. “Companies need to do much more to create transparency in their supply chain and opt for raw materials that are mined in an environmentally compatible manner. The German government must also urgently drive forward circular economy. It is the key to stemming the climate crisis and biodiversity loss at the same time.”

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