In the wake of the European Green Deal, on the 21st of November 2021, the European Commission launched a Proposal for a Regulation to curb EU-driven deforestation and forest degradation.
According to the latest data published by the WWF European Policy Office, the EU is the world’s second importer, behind China, of “embedded deforestation” and is responsible for 16% of deforestation associated with internationally traded commodities like meat, palm oil or soy. For the first time, recognizing its responsibility as a large consumer of forest- and climate-impacting commodities, the EU has set ambitious targets to eliminate deforestation and forest degradation from its supply chains and cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The new rules are expected to bring down biodiversity loss and reduce GHG emissions by at least 32 million metric tons a year (with potential cost savings of at least € 3 billion per year).
Although the logging industry remains a significant contributor to forest degradation and loss, the global top driver of deforestation is the conversion of forests to cropland or grassland for livestock grazing. In this regard, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that pastures and monocultures were responsible for about 90% of forest loss during the period 2000-2018.
The draft proposal will thus complement and expand the existing EU regulations on timber products (EUTR and FLEGT) by improving their framework and extending their scope to further imported commodities linked with global deforestation and climate change. The list drawn up by the Commission covers six “relevant commodities”: soya, palm oil and beef – among the products with the highest embedded tropical deforestation imported into the EU – followed by timber, cocoa and coffee. The list further refers to products that contain or have been fed or made with relevant commodities (“relevant products”).
Negotiations both in the European Parliament and among national ministers are expected to start during the French presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2022. Etifor will closely follow and inform on developments.