Thursday, December 9

The EU aims to curb deforestation with a ban on the import of beef and coffee | Deforestation


Beef, palm oil, cocoa and other deforestation-related products will be banned from entering the European Union under landmark legal proposals that try to help prevent the cutting down of the world’s great forests.

Two weeks after world leaders signed a plan at Cop26 to reverse deforestation at Cop26, the EU executive on Wednesday outlined a bill that requires companies to prove that agricultural products destined for the 450 million Block consumers were not linked to deforestation.

Beef, timber, palm oil, soybeans, coffee and cocoa are covered by the proposals but not rubber, an exclusion that has been criticized by environmentalists.

However, environmental groups have welcomed the plans, as for the first time the EU will attempt to regulate products related to total deforestation, and not just illegal. Environmentalists say this is an important step, as some large forested countries, such as Brazil, have removed legal protections.

“What we are proposing is a pioneering initiative,” said Virginijus Sinkevičius, the EU environment commissioner. “EU action alone will not solve the problem. We also need important markets like the United States and China to clean up their supply chain and we need producers to step up their forest protection, but we are ready to help. “

Nico Muzi, Europe director of the Mighty Earth campaign group, said the law was “a great step forward” in the fight to protect the world’s endangered forests. He said: “The EU is sending a clear message to major supermarkets and retailers: one of the world’s largest economies will simply not accept deforestation-related agricultural products.”

However, the EU proposals “uselessly sidelined” fragile ecosystems, he said, such as Brazil’s Cerrado savanna and peatlands in Southeast Asia, both with rich stocks of carbon, plant and animal life. The group has also criticized the exclusion of rubber, which it said caused 5 million hectares of deforestation in recent years.

Sinkevičius said more commodities could be included if there was evidence of a problem, as the bill allowed the EU “to react quickly … to changing patterns of deforestation.”

He also defended the commission’s numerical processing, after scientists whose work was cited by EU officials criticized Brussels’ use of his data. “I think we are not wrong,” said Sinkevičius, adding that the regulation was aimed at commodities where European consumption contributes the most to deforestation.

The former Lithuanian economy minister also highlighted the inclusion of some derivative products in the bill: leather, chocolate and furniture. Companies will face a due diligence requirement to make sure they are not selling products that have caused deforestation or forest degradation, which will mean monitoring land in source countries via satellites and geolocation tracking.

Between 1990 and 2008, EU consumption caused 10% of global deforestation, according to a commission estimate. The proposals are likely to be modified in negotiations between member states and the European Parliament before they become law.

Furthermore, the commission announced its intention to reactivate an attempt to protect European soils through legislation. Around 70% of European soils are considered unhealthy as a result of agriculture, pollution and urban sprawl, while 1 billion tonnes are washed away each year by erosion, an amount equivalent to 1 meter deep across Berlin. .

The commission, which regulates air and water quality, said it would publish the legal proposals in 2023 with the goal of achieving good soil health across the EU by 2050.

Meanwhile, EU governments are urged to set targets to minimize development on agricultural land and the natural environment, with more emphasis on redeveloping urban areas where land is already sealed under sidewalks and asphalt.

More than a decade ago, large EU member states, including the UK and Germany, thwarted plans for an EU soil protection law. Sinkevičius said Brexit “doesn’t make much of a difference” as previously reluctant member states seemed more understanding.


www.theguardian.com

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