To prevent French, Italian or Polish citizens from participating, by drinking their coffee or eating a steak, in destroying tropical forests on the other side of the planet – often without their knowledge. This is the objective of the legislative project presented by the European Commission on Wednesday November 17. It should make it possible to exclude from the European market beef, wood, palm oil, soybeans, coffee and cocoa linked to deforestation, whether or not it is legal in the country of production, or to the forest degradation. Certain derivative products, such as leather, chocolate and furniture, are also affected. “This is the most ambitious political initiative in the world to tackle the problem of imported deforestation, underlined the European Commissioner for the Environment, Virginijus Sinkevicius. As Europeans, we show that we take our responsibilities. “
“To prevail in the global fight against climate and biodiversity crises, we must act both at home and abroad, added Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the Commission. This regulation responds to citizens’ calls to minimize the European contribution to deforestation and to promote sustainable consumption. “ The public consultation launched in 2020 by the Commission to demand an ambitious law against deforestation, in which more than 1.2 million people participated, was the second most popular in the history of the European Union (EU ).
The EU is the second largest destroyer of tropical forests
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO), around 420 million hectares of forests – an area larger than the EU – were deforested between 1990 and 2020. And Europeans are contributing significantly to this phenomenon. In 2017, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) estimated that EU imports were responsible for 16% of deforestation linked to global trade, making it the second destroyer of tropical forests behind China. (24%) and ahead of India (9%) and the United States (7%). Among the drivers of this damage to ecosystems, the expansion of agriculture is by far the most important. “Imported deforestation is nested in all of our daily products, underlines Pierre Cannet, the advocacy director of the French branch of WWF. The European market has an important responsibility and constitutes a major lever vis-à-vis the producing countries. “
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