THE WORLD’S FORESTS ARE UNDER THREAT

The EU is responsible for 16% of tropical Deforestation.

It may seem to many that the EU respects and protect the environment and fights against any threat to nature. But the reality is shocking. The EU is one of the world’s largest importers of tropical Deforestation and associated emissions, only behind China.

Deforestation has severe effects on the environment, including climate change and habitat loss for millions of species. In 2017, the EU was responsible for 16% of Deforestation associated with international trade, with 203,000 hectares and 116 million tons of CO2

The World Wide Fund for Nature, in its report “Stepping up the pace: The continued impact of EU consumption on nature”, also brought out that the eight largest European economies were responsible for 80% of all this Deforestation during the period 2005-2017, with  Germany, Italy and Spain leading the list of countries with the most significant impact. 

There were numerous petitions from NGOs and European citizens to the European Commission to create effective legislation to address this problem, protect forests and ecosystems and prevent the import into the European market of any product contributing to Deforestation.

More than 1 million people participated in the #Together4Forests campaign to call for new practical and robust legislation to reduce Deforestation.

The necessity of a new and powerful legislation

The EU has already introduced some regulatory measures to tackle Deforestation, but they were not efficient and sufficient to face all the abuses and practices that cause this global problem.

On October 22, 2020, the European Parliament adopted a report with recommendations to the Commission on an EU legal framework to halt and reverse EU-driven global Deforestation. The European Commission is expected to present in 2021.

On October 28 2020, the Commission amended the existing Regulation EU 2018/841 on the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) and its Annex IV with Regulation (EU) 2021/268 setting forest reference levels that each EU country must apply between 2021 and 2025.

There was a proposal for Regulation regarding Deforestation and destruction of forests and to reduce the impact of products sold in the EU. Still, the Commission has not adopted one yet. It was planned for the second quarter of this year.

Therefore, there is no rational legislation that directly regulates deforestation-free products on the EU market until now.

The increasing demands from the global population, especially from the great world powers, for food, feed, bioenergy, timber and other commodities, in conjunction with the insufficient legislative response, will lead us to lethal consequences for the environment and completely change the life we know in less than 100 years. That is why we need to take concrete action.

What can we do?

While we are waiting for proper legislation, we can choose not to buy products linked to the destruction of nature. 

The commodities with the most significant destruction of tropical forests are soy, palm oil and beefMoreover, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) confirms that the increase in emerging infectious diseases coincides with the accelerated growth of tropical Deforestation, linked to the planting of oil palm or soybean.

It is also necessary to make the population and the food and drink industry aware of the importance of conserving natural forests and the severe consequences of our actions in the environment.

[1] World Wide Fund for Nature Report “Stepping up the pace: The continued impact of EU consumption on nature”.

[2] World Wide Fund for Nature. Report “Stepping up the pace: The continued impact of EU consumption on nature”.

[3] https://www.wwf.eu/campaigns/together4forests/.

[4] https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/A-9-2020-0179_EN.html

[5] Bruce A. Wilcox and Brett Ellis, Center for Infectious Disease Ecology, Asia-Pacific Institute for Tropical Medicine and Infectious Diseases, University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA; 2006

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