The European Commission proposed a law to ban the import of six commodities from deforested areas, paving the way for other deforestation solutions aiming to protect the world’s most vulnerable and disappearing forests following COP26 pledge to halt deforestation by 2030. 

What is Happening? 

The European Commission proposed a law to ban the imports of six food and agriculture commodities linked to deforestation, in a landmark legislation requiring companies to prove their global supply chains are “deforestation-free” to help protect the world’s disappearing forests. 

The draft law targets six food products including beef, soy palm oil, coffee, cacao and timber, which account for around 19% of total commodity imports into the EU, as well as some derived products such as leather, chocolate and furniture. 

Companies would need to prove that these six commodities are produced in accordance with the origin country’s laws and that they were not produced on deforested land. Imports from higher-risk countries would also be subjected to stricter checks. Producers that fail to comply with the mandatory due diligence rules and to provide satellite images to national authorities will be fined up to 4% of a company’s annual turnover. 

The anti-deforestation law paves the way for other deforestation solutions, and increase scrutiny of global product supply chains, in which many European companies operate in areas where environmental regulations have lax. 

The proposed EU plan comes after more than 140 countries pledged to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030 at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow earlier this month. Combined, these countries represent more than 85% of the world’s forests. 

Deforestation is one of the biggest threats to the world’s biodiversity, and land clearing for agricultural purposes is causing forests to lose their ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere, eventually converted into carbon sources. The Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, is now releasing more carbon dioxide than it is absorbing. 10 protected forests in UNESCO heritage sites have also exhibited similar symptoms. As a result, the land-use sector now accounts for 11% of global emissions.  

“To succeed in the global fight against the climate and biodiversity crises we must take the responsibility to act at home as well as abroad,” said EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans.“Our deforestation regulation answers citizens’ calls to minimise the European contribution to deforestation.”

“The deforestation regulations we are putting on the table are the most ambitious legislative attempts to tackle these issues worldwide ever,” EU environment commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said, adding that the aim is to have the deforestation law passed by 2023. Once the act is passed, large companies will be given a 12-month grace period to comply with new regulation while smaller firms are given a 24-month period. 

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