New EU law to stop deforestation products from entering Europe

The EU adopted a new law at the beginning of December 2022 obliging companies to ensure that their imported palm oil, meat, soy, leather, coffee, and cocoa do not derive from deforested land. This is an important and necessary decision that Rainforest Foundation Norway has worked for many years to see happen.

DEFORESTATION: Deforestation in the Wawi Indigenous Territory, Xingu, Brazil. Photo: Kamikiá Kisêdjê/AIK/RFN

Oslo, December 7, 2022.

"This is a significant contribution to stop the monumental loss of nature and species, and a timely signal to send to the Nature Summit starting in Montreal on Wednesday, December 7, 2022. Stopping deforestation is crucial to tackling two of the main challenges mankind faces: Loss of nature and runaway climate change," says Nils Hermann Ranum, head of Deforestation-Free Markets at Rainforest Foundation Norway, and continues;

"Europe is now taking a brave and important step, by requiring companies to stop deforestation in their supply chains. Companies must now prove that the products they bring to Europe haven’t caused deforestation"

Illegal to import high-risk commodities

Europe imports huge volumes of high-risk commodities associated with deforestation. An area larger than the EU was lost to deforestation from 1990 to 2020, with EU consumption representing around 10% of losses. Stopping imports of deforestation products to the EU is thus essential to reduce global deforestation.

It will now be illegal for European companies to import high-risk commodities like meat, leather, soy, and palm oil, that are produced in recently deforested areas, adding pressure on these industries to clean up their value chains.

Brazil’s cattle industry is the single biggest driver of deforestation. Most of the meat is consumed in Brazil, but Europe’s car industry is a major buyer of high-risk leather from Brazilian meatpackers.

"European car industry buys leather from Brazil’s cattle industry, which is the industry that causes the most deforestation on Earth. Volkswagen and other car manufacturers will now need to get control over their supply chain, to avoid being complicit in deforestation. We will keep a close track of the automobile industry to make sure they follow this up", says Ranum.

Loopholes that need to be fixed

Despite being a landmark law, there are crucial loopholes that need to be corrected in the first revision of the regulation. The rights of Indigenous peoples living in forest areas are only partially protected by the new regulation. Destruction of other ecosystems than forests is not included. This opens for continued destruction by the soy industry of parts of the Brazilian savannah; the cerrado.

"Not all the fires have been put out. It is a great shame that the EU failed to fully protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples living in forest areas in this milestone law. The regulation also fails to protect other ecosystems than forests, which means that some of the ongoing destruction by the soy industry will be allowed to continue. Rainforest Foundation Norway will keep working to change this in upcoming revisions of the regulation", states Ranum at Rainforest Foundation Norway.