DEFORESTATION DUE TO FOOD PRODUCTION COULD BE CUT THANKS TO NEW EU INITIATIVE
Tough new rules to prevent the sale in Europe of foodstuffs produced in ways that cause deforestation are set to be introduced.
The new regulations, which apply to everything from cocoa to palm oil, are being introduced by the European Commission.
They will ban the sale in the European Union of products the production of which has caused deforestation or forest degradation anywhere in the world.
The EU Regulation on deforestation-free supply chains is set to be introduced as a result of an agreement between the European Council, which is made up of ministers from EU member states, and the European Parliament.
In a statement announcing the agreement, the European Commission (EC) said that because the EU is a major consumer of goods including foodstuffs, the new rules should prevent “a significant share” of global deforestation or forest degradation.
Officials gave the rules the green light shortly before the recent conference for the protection of biodiversity in Montreal, also known as Cop15.
According to the rules, all companies will have to conduct what the European Commission said was “strict due diligence” if they place it in the EU market, or export from it, palm oil, cattle, soy, coffee and cocoa, as well as non-food-related goods including timber and rubber. Products derived from all of these, including beef and chocolate, are also covered by the rules.
“These commodities have been chosen on the basis of a thorough impact assessment identifying them as the main driver of deforestation due to agricultural expansion,” the European Commission (EC) statement said.
Frans Timmermans, the executive vice-president for the European Green Deal, which aims to ensure EU citizens have, for example, clean air and a healthy environment, said the agreement was “an important turning point in the global fight against deforestation”.
“As we make the green transition in the European Union we also want to ensure that our value chains become more sustainable as well,” he said.
“Combatting deforestation is an urgent task for this generation, and a great legacy to leave behind for the next.”
According to the EC, deforestation and forest degradation “are important drivers of climate change”.
Figures published by the World Bank indicate that agriculture contributes between 19% and 29% of greenhouse gas emissions, much of which is the result of land-use changes driven by agriculture.
Statistics from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), also published by the EC, tally with this, with the IPCC estimating that 23% of all human-made greenhouse gas released between 2007 and 2016 coming from agriculture, forestry and other land uses. The emissions are roughly split between forestry and other land use changes, mostly deforestation, and direct agricultural emissions from, for example, livestock and fertiliser use.
Deforestation results in large quantities of carbon emissions when trees are burned to produce, among other things, carbon dioxide.
However, carbon is also released from the soil when land is deforested, with a study published in 2014 finding that this process can continue for decades after clearances happen.
In the EC statement, Virginijus Sinkevičius, the Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, pictured at the top of the page, said that by coming to the agreement, the EU was “sending a strong signal to the rest of the world” that it was “determined to address global deforestation”, which he said “contributes massively to the climate crisis and the loss of our natural environment”.
“To succeed we will build efficient and close cooperation with both consumer and producer countries to ensure a smooth process,” he added.
The EC said that the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that 420 million hectares of forest, which represents an area larger than the EU, was deforested in the three decades to 2020.
During the same period, the net area of forests lost was 178 million hectares, a figure that takes account of new surfaces of forest planted or regenerated. This represents an area three times the size of France.
In other EU-related news, SIALParis Newsroom recently reported that the EU had given the go-ahead for a €218 million agricultural scheme for Bulgaria.
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