Commission: The EU is part of the problem of global deforestation

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Kevin Wells
© GettyImages/Kevin Wells

Related tags: Soy, deforestation, Beef

In a roadmap published yesterday, the European Commission has promised to tackle global deforestation, in particular trying to address and reduce the EU’s role in that.

It said it wants to step up action against deforestation by presenting an integrated EU approach to the problem, to protecting forests and promoting sustainable supply chains.

The Commission is seeking feedback on the roadmap​ from now until January 15 2019.

Roadmaps like this one, says the EU Commission, describe the problem to be tackled and objectives to be met, explain why EU action is needed, outline policy options and describe the main features of the consultation strategy.

“Sometimes the potential impact of a law or policy on the economy, environment or society is so great that an impact assessment is required. In that case, the roadmap is replaced by an inception impact assessment, which goes into greater detail.”

The EU executive acknowledges that deforestation is a major global problem, leading to biodiversity loss, climate change and poverty.

“The causes are many and complex, though increased production of commodities such as soy, beef, palm oil, coffee, and cocoa drives almost 80% of all deforestation.”

EU demand contributes to the problem, said the Commission.

According to a Commission study published in 2013, the EU 27 imported and consumed 10% of the global production of crops and livestock products associated with deforestation in the countries of origin over the period 1990-2008. 

“This is equivalent to the import and consumption in the EU of a deforested land area of 9 million hectares over that period. The EU is indeed among the major global importers of a number of specific commodities associated with deforestation, i.e. palm oil (25% of global imports), soy (15%), rubber (25%), beef (41%), maize (30%), cocoa (80%), and coffee (60%).”

Feed industry reaction 

In terms of the roadmap, FEFAC said it welcomes the objective put forward by the Commission to better implement and communicate actions already undertaken by the EU and its Member States, support existing commitments by governments and the private sector, promote collaboration and the exchange of good practices, and raise awareness.

"Building effective partnerships with producer countries is something FEFAC has been doing for several years already, and we advocate this level of cooperation [should] also take place at governmental level,​" Alexander Döring, secretary general of FEFAC, told FeedNavigator.

'Time running out'

The WWF said the Commission's initiative is a positive first step as "time is running out for the EU to uphold its international commitment to end deforestation by 2020, as agreed to under Sustainable Development Goal 15, as well as other commitments like the Paris Agreement, the 2014 UN New York Declaration on Forests, and the CBD Aichi targets."

Also commenting on the roadmap was Greenpeace. It called on the Commission to swiftly table an action plan which includes new laws to ensure that neither products placed on the EU market, nor the financial sector, cause environmental and social impacts like deforestation, forest degradation, or human rights violations.

The organization also called for policy proposals to help reduce what it called Europe’s "over-consumption of meat and dairy products",​ which it said is "a driver of deforestation​".

The EU Commission is set to publish a Communication on stepping up EU Action against Deforestation and Forest Degradation in spring 2019. 

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