EU approves new law to prevent deforestation for commodities

Earlier in the year, members of the European Parliament were urged to support proposed new laws to prevent deforestation, which is one of the biggest threats to the world’s climate. 

Now, EU lawmakers have reached an agreement that ensures that products that are linked to the destruction or degradation of forests cannot be sold in the European Union. 

Marian Jurečka, the environment minister who negotiated on behalf of the 27 EU countries said: “The EU is a large consumer and trader of commodities that play a substantial part in deforestation – like beef, cocoa, soy, and timber. Protecting the environment around the world, including forests and rainforests, is a common goal for all countries and the EU is ready to take responsibility.”

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, between 1990 and 2020, 420 million hectares of forest were deforestation – an area larger than the size of the EU. European consumption continues to be a driver in this and is responsible for around 10% of losses. 

The new law would force companies that sell coffee, palm oil, soya beef, rubber, cocoa, wood, and other products linked to the destruction of forests to produce a statement on their deforestation policies. This includes products that are made using these commodities, like leather and chocolate. 

Companies that don’t produce a statement or are later found to be linked to deforestation will no longer be able to trade in the EU. 

There will also be inspections to make sure companies are sticking to their promises, with the frequency of inspections depending on the country of production. Companies operating in high-risk countries could have at least 9% of their products checked. 

The European Commission will reevaluate the law a year after it comes into force to see if it needs to be extended to other products, or to other types of wooded land with high carbon storage and biodiversity value. 

The new law is expected to be adopted in EU countries next year for large companies, whilst medium and small companies will have longer to meet the regulations. 

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