The UN should impose sanctions on countries that destroy their rainforests
Last updated: March 2, 2017
No introduction at present. Why not write one?
We would first like to define the major terms. The term “sanctions” refer to our policy, which is twofold. The UNSC should first pass a resolution to impose trade sanctions on all countries that destroy the rainforest for quick development. Precedents exist, such as the UN sanction on South Africa for apartheid. These sanctions will be limited to all products from destroying rainforests, such as timber, soybeans, palm oil and sugar cane. The second prong follows; in order to ease the difficulties of having to halt potential industries, developed nations will subsidize local farmers and companies that have been sustaining themselves by deforestation. There already have been such initiatives; Cutting Edge News reported that Norway donated $1 billion to the Amazon Fund and Germany is expected to make a substantial donation in the future. Even private companies such as Marriott Hotels have donated $8.1 million to create a state bank system that would allocate money to 6,000 families in exchange for their promise to preserve the trees on their land (http://www.thecuttingedgenews.com/index.php?article=11430). We finally define “countries that destroy rainforests” as nations such as Brazil, that have been allowing the denuding and deforestation of its rainforests for development.
We the opposition agree with them in that the rainforests are indeed vital for our survival and that we cannot afford to lose them to deforestation. However, we completely oppose the way in which they want to halt the deforestation. In our case we will not only point out how their case has loopholes that may well prevent it from being an effective solution, but we will also show that these sanctions will give rise to whole new range of problems that have not been considered by them.
The fact that they are trying to subsidize the people who will be affected by this is outrageous. The examples that they have given are miniscule when compared to the industries releated with the rainforests products. For example, Indonesia and Malaysia, provide 86% of the world's biofuel supply[[Borneo's Moment of Truth, National Geographic Magazine, November 2008]], the market of which is estimated to be around of 33 billion euros, with a double digit annual growth rate. Most of the biofuel produciton in Indonesia and Malysia takes place on deforested land[[Same as first]].
Sanctions are the most effective response to an urgent crisis.
Deforestation poses catastrophic scenarios for the planet. It is singularly responsible for around a fifth of the world's carbon emissions. The vaporization of natural resources is inevitable. Millions of species become extinct – rain forests contain 50% of the earth’s entire pool. Rainfalls become unstable, atmospheric gases irregular. Thousands of indigenous people lose their habitat of centuries. The land becomes an eroded desert wasteland, useless for anything save for environmental documentaries.
Thankfully, awareness of the critical status quo is beginning to rise. From merely discussing preservation at the start of the millennia, the world has come to realize the need for powerful measures. In 2008, all EU nations concurred to sanction any kind of serious environmental abuse. Similarly, under the Pelly Amendment, the U.S. government can impose trade sanctions against countries that hamper multilateral efforts for environmental conservation. Such positive decisiveness by certain regions is certainly worthy of adaptation on the global scale. Actions for environmental conservation should not be left to certain nations, but rather an international force – and thus the UN.
Let me introduce the mechanism of our policy.
The proposition proposes the introduction of economic sanctions that place limits on trade – undertaking boycotts when necessary – on the countries’ byproducts of rainforest destruction, such as timber and meat. Companies will not be able to profit from producing such goods. The sanctions’ aim is simple yet effective. Through our specifically targeted restrictions, the sole incentive of rainforest destruction will be disabled – profit. Quote directly from Greenpeace: While the issues surrounding the Amazon are complex, they boil down to a very simple economic principle. Today, it is worth more to a logging company or a farmer to clear rainforest than to let it stand. Essentially, the market views trees as worth more dead than alive.
However, if we halt the sales of products manufactured by such actions, the companies be left with zero positive incentive. Ultimately the market will view trees as worth more standing than dead; benefits will become nonexistent in creating dead trees and increasing land.
The possible side effects of the policy may be short-term economic disadvantages. This can be mitigated by foreign subsidies aforementioned in the introduction of our case. Through subsidized structural adjustments in the economy, these countries can actually receive positive benefits from the sanctions in the long run.
For this reason we are proud to propose.
These sanctions will create economic problems that will not only be limited to people in the host country. In their case, the proposition ahs not considered the importing countries at all. For example, ff sanctions are put on Brazil's meat exports(since cattle are grazed on deforested land as highlighted by the proposition) there will be an immediate shortage in Western countries which depend on this meat and can lead to huge public outcry as restauraunts are suddenly unable to obtain sufficient supply of meat. People in the importing countries who depend on the imported goods may loose their jobs and may have to be subsidized too.In the end the taxpayer's money of the developed countries will be used to subsidize people in other countries that could lead to sudden shortages in developed country itself. It should be noted that Brazil is the world's largest producer of beef[[http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/April06/Findings/Brazil.htm]].
The sanctions are very destructive and we the oppostion believe that a much gradual approach to reduce demand will be much more beneficial as we will go on to explain.
Rainforests are global resources.
While some may argue that countries have a right to do whatever it wants with its resources, the case of rainforests is a unique one. The clean air and water produced by rainforests are not exclusive within national borders. The clean air from the Amazon, for example, does not stay locked in within its national borders, but spreads out to and benefits the world as a whole. Thus rainforests differ from national resources such as gold deposits, in that it is a common resource. While each country has a right to develop its own industries, it can only do so within the limits of not interfering with the rights of other countries. The principle that countries can only develop to the extent that they do not harm other nations was outlined in Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, established in London in 1972, which stipulated that if certain countries condone the dumping of waste into the ocean, other countries may take multilateral action to punish the offending country.4 In this age of climate change concerns, it is necessary for us to clarify that it is not okay for countries to pollute at the expense of others for its own national growth. The fact that Brazil asks for international support in protecting its rainforests already shows us that even Brazil, to an extent, acknowledges the global nature of the benefits produced by the rainforests.
In enforcing such global measures, UN, the largest international body encompassing both developed and developing nations, finds a definite responsibility in acting against the environmental crisis. As its preamble explicitly states, the organization is required to fulfill its responsibilities in “promot[ing] social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.”5 To extensively support this stance, UN has to go beyond using the rudimentary method of incentivizing; it has both the right and responsibility to impose sanctions on the nations that are suffocating Mother Nature and consequently putting the lives of the entire world population at stake.
The proposition has highlighted that Brazil itself wants to stop deforestation. However, this does not mean that Brazil wants other countries to impose sanctions on it so that its economy is crippled. The way to move forward is to reduce the demand of such destructive products so that the producers gradually stop expansion of their industry into rainforests. This will obviously be not as sudden as the sanctions. This will also not be costly for the developed countries as they are not having to subsidize anyone.
Accountability: polluter pays
Sanctions are better for the government themselves
For one, agriculture will greatly benefit once rainforests are protected. The environment and economy are not two separate factors; there exists a mutual link between the two. The brown cloud, for example, is an environmental disaster caused by airborne particles and pollutants. This effectively hinders the farming industry by blocking sunlight and weakening crops, thus rendering both the environment and the agriculture useless. The important fact is that these two factors go hand-in-hand, and that the destruction of rainforests affects other fields as well.
Moreover, the status quo is that farmers do not have sustainable farming methods and therefore end up clearing rainforests to create land upon which they can farm on. However, Earth cannot create land forever; scientists predict that rainforests will be gone in 40 years at this pace. With this in mind, the need for a more efficient farming method rises. By preventing any further abuse of rainforests, farmers will be driven to find other alternatives that will enable them to continue farming without inflicting damage upon the environment.
Finally, there will be diplomatic benefits that come with preserving rainforests as well. Using the rainforests as a method to develop is simply bad tactics in the sense that the countries that do so become the mavericks that go against the trend of the rest of the world, which is to conserve the environment. On the other hand, preserving the rainforests enables the government to gain the upper hand in morality in the international society. By showing that it cares for the environment so much that it is even willing to forfeit some of the benefits that may derive from the exploitation of the rainforests, the government sends a clear message and thus wins the consent of other nations.
[Response to rebuttal] Sanctions are the most effective response to an urgent crisis.
Even if by divine grace beef turns out to be quite undersupplied, saving rainforests as soon as possible through decisive action is still necessary. Less beef in the world may be a bad news for McDonald’s. No rainforest in the world will be a humanitarian catastrophe.
Temporary lack of meat is hardly a fatal issue. The world is already well informed about how to deal with the sudden deficit of a certain food. Especially in the case of meat, beef can be perfectly replaced with poultry or pork. Meat consumption is fluid, as shown in the Avian Influenza panic.
On the other hand, rainforests will be nonexistent within 20 years. The opposition takes a blatantly naïve stance towards this urgency. “A much gradual approach” is more of a cowardly euphemism for “twiddling our thumbs” than anything else. The fact is that the world cannot afford ten or twenty more years for a nice utopian solution. What is even worse is that rainforests take millions of years to recover from destruction. 
Judging from the logic of the rebuttals, the opposition evidently conceded to the sanctions’ fundamental promptness and effectiveness in dealing with the problem. We totally agree. Their only rebuttal was about the potential negative side effects, argued without factual evidence and now clearly disproved through contrary data.
Thus for these reasons the proposition believes the first point stands.
We gave beef as an exapmle only and told that there would be shortages of other goods like biofuel as well. And it is not as simple as McDonald's being effected. The economy is dependent on many factors and an immediate shortage can have side-effects like pushing up food prices. Crop based food prices are already high, and if meat prices suddenly rise too, there will be a huge problem. As for poultry, the EU also imports some poultry from Brazil[[http://www.worldpoultry.net/news/eu-and-brazil-agree-on-new-trade-rules-687.html]].
We wont be twinddling our thumbs at all. We will be using peaceful ways to solve a crisis, instead of putting our thumbs and poking out eyes of other countries to reach the same conclusions.
Inthe end, their rebuttals don't stand.
[Response to rebuttal] Rainforests are global resources.
On Brazil’s efforts in preventing deforestation, we would like to clarify that although Brazil is aware of the environmental risks, they are not willing to take voluntary actions in stopping further destruction. Just recently, for example, President Lula de Silva has passed a bill that grants titles to illegal rainforest squatters. NGOs have accused de Silva of further accelerating the rainforest destruction, but the only response to that was complete denial without any elaboration.1 We must note that this is what members of the UNSC and other nations face even after constantly lobbying and promising financial support for the Brazilian government.
Then, can we still say that we should just sit back and wait for gradual change through political discourses? Proposition figures that the time for change is already overdue and that the there is a dire need to take real action – something that will bring effective change.
The government contradicts itself by now saying that Brazil is trying to destroy its rainforests for development. The UNSC and other countries should reduce demand of goods instead of providing them money as the proposition says. This will bring no sudden and destructive shift in the economy and at the same time, the Brazilian government will have no reason to continue deforestation.
Effective change is better brought without harsh and hard to control-side effects. Sanctions are not that kind of effective solution.
[Response to rebuttal] Accountability: polluter pays
Moreover, the opposition stated that it is not right to only punish the developing nations while the developed nations “spew out tons of CO2.” However, now is not the right time to be playing the blame game. The fact is, conserving rainforests and reducing developed nations’ CO2 emissions are not mutually exclusive at all. Both of them can be carried out; in fact, we would like to actually encourage that both be carried out because we value the environment and its following benefits.
Even though domestic influences are there on the economic growth, it should be noted that a countries like Brazil, Indonesia and Malaysia provid much of the world's demand for biofuel and meat. So, a sudden change would definitely have a clear impact on the economy.
We do not want to play the blame game. However, We do not feel that it will be possible to explain this to countries being harmed by other countries who alos pollute.
Now that we have shown how the opposition has failed to “show the loopholes” in our case even in their second rebuttal, we would like to ask three simple questions in this summary. Firstly, which policy side has solvency and will benefit the international society? Second, which plan will actually help the nations in concern? Last, but not least, which side has provided a higher moral principle in this debate?
1. Will sanctions be more effective in helping the environmental and benefiting the international society?
The benefits that rainforests bring to the world are quite diverse and prominent: clean air, biodiversity, and much more. This was a concession between the two sides; the debate was on whether sanctioning is the right way to conserve these benefits.
The Opposition claims that they are not going to be “twiddling their thumbs,” but in fact use peaceful methods to solve the problem. However, this is not what is happening in reality. Despite countless lobbies and financial support by the members of the UN and other private organizations that advocate the protection of rainforests, - unlike what opposition claims in their rebuttal, this international effort has been clearly proved in our introduction of this debate - one and a half acres are being destroyed every second. Brazil’s just acknowledging the threat and then continuing with its rainforest destruction is definitely not enough. What this world needs is a clear solution that will take care of the problem once and for all. As we have proven continuously throughout this debate, sanctioning is a plausible method that prevents further destruction of rainforests for sure.
Here the Opposition claims that sanctions are harmful to the certain industries and trades, so they should not be carried out. However, we have shown again and again how on both economic and political level, the international society will be able to adjust to the situation as they have done in the past cases of sanction and may also benefit from the policy. But still, the ultimate benefit that the international community will gain by preventing deforestation right now is that the globe’s next generation will not have to commercialize clean air and sell portable oxygen canteens. We would again like to remind you that by the time “gradual change” is achieved, suffocation will be a commonplace death cause.
2. Are sanctions beneficial for individual nations with rainforests?
In this clash the proposition clearly dominates. While the proposition has shown the various benefits of sanctions for countries, the opposition has totally neglected to respond and thus conceded the point entirely.
We have shown you the benefits are immense for individual nations through many different lines of logic. Nations are better off in that they can continue to receive the benefits of rainforests. Moreover, rainforest protection helps increase agricultural yields and leads to developing farming technologies. Finally, countries will gain a much higher political standing than before.
All these arguments were made in our constructive case and never addressed by the opposition.
While ignoring all these benefits, the opposition could only manage to offer – late, in fact – three points that were negative to nations.
The first was that subsidies would not be enough. This was only asserted without any logic or evidence thus we cannot take this as a valid rebuttal. Given the enthusiasm with which the EU nations, and even the United States, are responding to the climate change crisis (with intiatives such as the Copenhagen Consensus, or the volunteering to pay for rainforest upkeep) we do not think there is reason to be so skeptical about international support if countries decide to stop destroying their rainforests. The second was that farmers would become dependent on the subsidies. In this case gradually decreasing subsidies can be used to put pressure on them to find new jobs soon, which is utilized quite often. The third was that rainforests are razed for the sake of increasing population. Not only is that assertion totally without even one piece of evidence, it is not true. We have already told you that land razed for non-farming purposes turns into wasteland in our 1st argument. This means land unfit for humans to live in. Furthermore, the proposition stands that population problems can be well handled by infrastructural policies, as in the case of many Asian cities. Threatening humanity for the sake of room for more humanity does not seem very bright.
3. Is imposing a sanction based on a higher moral principle?
The final crux of the debate lies in the issue of moral principles. We, the proposition has provided a very detailed account of both moral and legal justification for imposing a sanction on the nations in concern.
Unlike other natural resources, clean air and water produced by rainforests are universal and the entire globe is heavily dependent on those common resources. Because of this aspect, there are international protocols and laws delineating the principle that other countries can take multilateral action against certain countries that condone critical environmental threats. Since we the proposition have established the imminent threat posed by the destruction of rainforests, which will be nonexistent within the next 20 years, our policy of sanctions completely falls under the jurisdiction of those agreements.
Even if we take into account the immediate sacrifices supposedly caused by sanctions, our policy still has the higher moral grounds from a utilitarian viewpoint. Under the principle, it is always better to serve in the interest of the majority and maximize the aggregate benefit. The policy of sanction not only serves in the interest of the majority threatened by depleting oxygen resources, but also brings immediate benefits to the nations in concern by institutionalizing sustainable development.
Meanwhile, the opposition has failed to respond to these ideas included in our constructive cases. They conceded to the fact that we face an urgent crisis with majority of lives at stake, but only kept on insisting that the change be made slow. They have not provided any justification whatsoever as to explain why speculations of minor negativities should hinder the international community from saving the world. Thus, we see this as an irresponsible stance neglecting an urgent problem.
For the past few decades, governments have tried various measures to discourage and ultimately stop further destruction of rainforests. However, so far, none of them have worked sufficiently. Those incentivizing methods could be ameliorated and reused to a certain level, but we have already passed the tipping point. We the proposition value the world, the environment, and the people, and for that we firmly stand for the motion.
When the buying stops the killing can too
The UNSC, instead of passing what would be a very controversial and harmful resolution regarding the sanction, could work to reduce demand of the products so that neither the producing countries nor the importing countries are harmed. THis can be achieved by producing the goods in their own countries instead of importing from Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. For example, the EU has a ban on importing US produced biofuel, and it imports biofuel from Malaysia and Indonesia instead. If this ban is removed, the production in Malaysia and Indonesia will automatically decrease and at the same time there will be no need for costly subsidies. At the same time, production in US will increase and this will lead to decrease in dependnce on biofuel produced in lands that were once home to the awesome rainforests. Also, this will be a gradual process and the farmers in Malaysia and Indonesia will gradually overcome the problem of shifting demand to other problems and will not have to suddenly face the prospect of losing their livelihood since a sudden stop in imports can make them think so. The proposition might argue here that they would not loose their livelihood, since they would be given subsidies, but as we have highlighted out, these subsidies are likely to be highly inadequate and the solution proposed by us requires no subsidies at all.
There is a reason why the EU does not import US produced biofuel; biofuel based on corn-ethanol has been an immense failure. The demand for corn ethanol has driven up food prices all around the world and has been proven to be extremely inefficient.(1) We do not want the biofuel industry to regress and move back to the states.
The opposition claim that doing this gradually is a good idea. Tectonic plates move gradually. Gradual change is never enough. Up until now the world has been waiting for gradual change. But time and history has proved that with no regulation, corporate greed knows no limits. Gradual change will not happen voluntarily. Although the Brazilian government has been asking for external aid, it still allows destruction of the Amazon as stated in our response to the Opposition’s second rebuttal.
We only have 20 more years to enjoy rainforests if this persists. Our children will likely live in a world without rainforests once they reach their teens. We say that gradual change is not good enough. This is an urgent issue that has to be addressed now.
The UNSC passing a sanction is highly unlikely
First of all, a debate like this should not be focused on practicality; the values behind the motion, “the UN should impose sanctions on countries that destroy their rainforests,” are what matters. Yet, even with that in mind, we would like to show how sanctioning is a much more practical policy anyway.
In the past, the UNSC has sanctioned many issues, especially those of moral concerns. Take, for example, the sanction that eventually led to the disposing of the Apartheid discrimination in South Africa or the stopping of human rights abuses in Iraq. Even if it comes with certain disadvantages to the UNSC nations, history shows that the UNSC nations are willing to cushion some of those damages.
Furthermore, the UNSC has the incentive to proceed with these sanctions. For one, on the environmental level, these nations know that the environment is a global resource. The US and the EU have continuously lobbied nations like Brazil to stop the rainforest destructions, which simply shows that these nations actually care. After all, who wouldn’t like clean air? Also, on the economic level, the UNSC nations would actually like Brazil out of the picture in the timber or meat market. The US, Canada, and Australia are all deeply interested in getting a bigger share of the beef market, for example, as shown in the countless examples of their lobbying the WTO to get permission to export to countries like South Korea. Because sanctioning Brazil effectively takes it out of the picture, attacking the practicality of the sanctions is illogical.
Sanctions give rise to a whole new set of problems
But we do not even concede that our policy would necessarily lead to bad relations. In the short term there will be disagreements, as of any other political move. However, if the threat of the sanction is enough to make countries like Brazil change, such as in the case of the US shrimp sanction or the whaling sanction, then this will lead to global cooperation.
Dependece on subsidies
At the very beginning of our arguments, we made it clear that we agreed that rainforest are vital to our survival, as that is not something that cannot be challenged and also we made it clear that we believed the subsidies that the proposition talked about would not be enought to mitigate the effects on the huge markets concerned.
In their first argument, they talked about how sanctions are the effective as they would reduce profits and stop deforestation.
Our reply to this was plain and simple - even though in some cases sanctions maybe effective, they are destrucitve too. There would not only be problems in the sanctioned countries, but in the importing countries too. We gave the example of Brazilian meat to illustrate some of the possible effects the sanctions could have, including high prices, shortage of supply, and possible public outcry due to use of taxpayer's money to subsidze foreign workers while prices were high at home. Instead of taking such damaging measures, we introduced the idea of reducing demand, which would be less destructive, but would have the same effects.
In response to our rebuttal, they gave examples and showed how EU and US weren't importing meat through severely outdated statistics. Their severe underestimation of the possible side effects of shortage of goods surprised us and we pointed out some of the effects other than the ones related to McDonald's in our response to their response to our rebuttal of their argument.
In their next argument, they pointed out how rainforests are global resources. However it did not remain as an argument as we acknowledged the fact that they are indeed so as they affect all the people in the world – a fact that cannot be argued about. We also mentioned that since rainforests are global resources, they should be protected through lessening the dependence on products produced by destroying them instead of taking sudden and unprecedented actions that could have far reaching harmful side-effects.
Even though they said that this was status quo, we argued otherwise.
In their third argument, they argued that putting sanctions would be a sort of punishment to the offender. Our rebuttal to this was that this would not be the case as the mindset that the countries would have would be of double standards. Some of the countries, including countries in the UNSC emit CO2 and remain unpunished while others are punished by some of the polluting countries themselves.
They responded to our rebuttal by saying that we said that developing countries produce all goods for developed countries and that the blame game should not be played. However we implied that rainforest countries (mainly developing countries), supply rainforest goods to many developed countries. We also said that it would be very hard to explain the double standards to the sanctioned countries.
Their fourth argument argued that sanctions were good for the govt themselves by saying that saved rainforests are good, but throughout the debate we pointed out that we could reach the same conclusions through less harmful means.
In response to our argument about gradual change in demand, they gave example of tectonic plates moving slowly. However, we feel that gradual, but obviously not as slow as the prop imagines it to be is better than destructive solutions.
We also mentioned that sanctions would give rise to problems like divides among countries and that their proposal would not address the issue of overpopulation. We could achieve the same degree of lessening of deforestation as proposed by them, without bad effects through alternate solutions.
In short, in the debate, our arguments were based on the ideas of reducing demand to reduce consumption of rainforest goods, whereas they proposed to reach the same conclusion through sudden and possibly devastating means that would bring divides and possible economic mayhem – things very very unlikely to happen through the alternative introduced by us.