The European Commission has published two key studies on deforestation, one focusing on palm oil production and sustainability certification schemes, the other looking at options to step up EU action on deforestation.
ClientEarth lawyer Diane de Rouvre said: “These two studies rightly highlight how the EU is part of the problem, but can also contribute to the solution.”
In comparing three different options for EU action, the feasibility study indicates that of all the options, new legal tools, like a due diligence regulation for forest risk commodities, would likely have the greatest impact, despite requiring the most effort from the EU.
De Rouvre added: “The EU must now turn these words into action. Failure to do so would mean missing international commitments, like the emissions reduction goals of the Paris Agreement, and failing to recognise the urgency of the situation. We urge the European Commission to come up with a set of proposals for action, including binding rules for industry, to address the EU’s impact on deforestation.”
Between 2010 and 2015, 8.8 million hectares of forest – an area roughly equivalent to Sweden – were lost each year. Agricultural expansion is one of the major causes of deforestation today and can create competing pressures on land and therefore jeopardise rights of local and indigenous communities.
The feasibility study also says that EU action would be most effective as a combination of interventions, addressing consumption, production and finance of commodities linked to deforestation together. The EU, as one of main consumers of such commodities, like palm oil, soy and beef, has a key role to play in addressing this problem. These studies are essential to inform the development of the EU’s future action against deforestation.