Environmental groups hail EU draft law for deforestation-free supply chains

Mato Grosso State Communication Department/AFP

The European Union reached an agreement Tuesday to ban the import of products including coffee, cocoa and soy in cases where they are deemed to contribute to deforestation.

The draft law, which aims to ensure "deforestation-free supply chains" for the 27-nation EU, was hailed by environmental groups as "groundbreaking".

It requires companies importing into the EU to guarantee products are not produced on land that suffered deforestation after 31 December, 2020, and that they comply with all laws of the source country.

The scope encompasses palm oil, cattle, soy, coffee, cocoa, timber and rubber as well as derived products such as beef, furniture and chocolate.

Illegal production has spurred massive deforestation in countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Mexico and Guatemala.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that an aggregate area of land bigger than the European Union, or some 420 million hectares (more than one billion acres), has been deforested around the world over the past three decades.

The European Union is the second-biggest market for consumption of the targeted products after China.

Radical, historic

Pascal Canfin, chairman of the European Parliament's environment committee, hailed the agreement, and how its impact would feed through to everyday items Europeans consume.

"It's the coffee we have for breakfast, the chocolate we eat, the coal in our barbecues, the paper in our books. This is radical," he said.

The environmental lobby group Greenpeace called the draft law, agreed between the European Parliament and EU member states, "a major breakthrough".

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