Pressure mounts on EU to act as France calls for action on deforestation
November 14, 2018

Brussels – The French government has just published a new national strategy to combat the deforestation caused by its imports of soy, palm oil, beef, cocoa and wood. They have set themselves the target of ending so-called “embodied deforestation” by 2030.  

The document also calls for the elaboration of an European policy to tackle deforestation and forest degradation “by the end of the current legislature (mid-2019)”.

The launch of the strategy follows multiple calls for an ambitious EU Action Plan on deforestation, coming from citizens, companies, Member States, the European Parliament and NGOS. These included a letter from Member States on November 1; the September 2018 European Parliament vote on a resolution calling for “regulatory measures to ensure that no supply chains or financial transactions linked to the EU cause deforestation”; a petition signed by almost 200,000 citizens; and a call from companies such as Mondelez for the EU to adopt binding regulation that requires companies to prove that goods placed on the EU market don’t drive human rights abuses and deforestation.

“It is great that France is taking the lead in the fight against deforestation, but the EU and others need to follow suit, because France can’t tackle deforestation alone. Only the European Commission can ensure that all Member States’ trade is free from violations of land tenure rights and deforestation,” said Nicole Polsterer, Fern’s consumption campaigner.

According to its own calculations, the EU is the second largest importer of agricultural products resulting from deforestation, with a forested area the size of Portugal lost globally between 1990 and 2005 because of EU consumption of commodities grown on deforested land.

To deal with this issue, in 2013, the European Parliament and the Council instructed the European Commission to develop an Action Plan to tackle deforestation and degradation. Although two feasibility studies were published in 2013 and 2018 proposing policy options - and despite its commitment to halt and reverse deforestation and forest degradation by 2020 - the EU has not taken any steps to stop the terrible impacts resulting from its consumption.

“M. Juncker’s legacy on forests lies in the balance: the EU has only 13 months to uphold its commitment to halt deforestation by 2020. Action has to happen on his watch,” said Hannah Mowat, Fern’s campaigns coordinator.

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