Last week, the European Commission proposed new legislation to ban the import of many key commodities if companies cannot definitively prove that their products aren’t linked to deforestation. Otherwise, these companies can expect to receive a hefty fine.
The commodities under investigation include beef, palm oil, coffee, cocoa, wood, and soy, as all these products have been repeatedly connected to deforestation, which is linked to biodiversity collapse, climate change, and human rights violations.
According to the EU environment commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius, “The deforestation regulations we are putting on the table are the most ambitious legislative attempts to tackle these issues worldwide ever.” He also notes that the new regulations were a sign that the EU was ready to “walk the talk” after more than 100 nations agreed to end deforestation during the COP26 climate summit.
The EU is responsible for up to 10 percent of the 420 million-plus hectares of forest that has been lost worldwide since 1990 through international trade, and the six items listed above contribute to around 19 percent of EU commodity imports.
While the list of products currently included isn’t an exhaustive list of all the commodities that are connected to environmental destruction and human rights violations, the plan is to review and update the legislation regularly and add more products and materials linked with deforestation, such as rubber.
“The EU is sending a clear message to major supermarkets and retailers: one of the largest economies in the world simply won’t accept agricultural products linked to deforestation,” Nico Muzi, the European Director of global advocacy NGO Mighty Earth declared.
The EU hopes to pass the law by 2023.