EU proposes tough new regulations to prevent deforestation
Members of the European Parliament are being urged to support new laws that would force companies to prove that their products haven’t contributed to deforestation.
According to the latest figures from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, between 1990 and 2020, 420 million hectares of forest were deforestation. It is estimated that EU consumption accounts for around 10% of the destruction of forests globally.
Another UN study highlighted deforestation as one of the biggest threats to the world’s climate. It is known to accelerate temperature changes, cause species extinction, and lead to a loss of biodiversity in natural habitats.
The latest proposals, which were initially presented last year, would mean companies proving that their products are ‘deforestation-free’ before they can be sold in the EU market.
Before being imported into the EU, all companies selling products and commodities would need verification that they were produced on deforested or degraded land.
The European Parliament’s Environment committee has supported the ambitious proposals, which would increase the number of checks on companies and protect more areas, including other natural ecosystems like grasslands and wetlands, which aren’t currently included.
In addition to this, companies would be responsible for verifying that their products conform with human rights laws and respect the rights of indigenous peoples. Financial institutions would also need to meet additional requirements to make sure their activities don’t cause deforestation.
Polls suggest that most Europeans support measures to take stronger action against deforestation. One survey by GlobeScan asked citizens in nine European countries for their thoughts on the issue.
The results show that 82% of respondents think businesses shouldn’t sell products that contribute to global deforestation and 78% believe that it’s the government’s responsibility to make sure these products are banned.
So far, over a million people have joined the WWF campaign #Together4Forests. Members include scientists, companies, and citizens, who all back stronger laws to protect forests, wildlife, and ecosystems, as well as the rights of local communities.