Brussels – In a roadmap released today, the European Commission has promised to address global deforestation and cut the EU’s footprint on the world’s forests.

Activists prevent a giant tanker transporting palm oil belonging to Wilmar, the world’s biggest and dirtiest palm oil trader, from mooring in Rotterdam harbour in late November 2018.

The roadmap highlights the link between deforestation and the global trade in commodities, in particular agricultural products like soy, palm oil and beef. The Commission recognises that “the EU, as a major importer of agricultural commodities, is part of the problem but can also be part of the solution”.

The roadmap considers action to address the impact of supply chains, the role of the financial and investment sectors, and EU consumption, as well as measures to support producer countries. However, it is unclear what concrete and binding measures might be tabled by the Commission.

Greenpeace EU forest policy director Sébastien Risso said: “The Commission has recognised that Europe needs to do a lot more to protect the world’s forests. It should start by proposing legislation to ensure that the food we eat and the products we use do not destroy forests or assault indigenous peoples’ rights. Scientists also warn that protecting the world’s last remaining forests is crucial to avoid the worst effects of climate change and save countless species from extinction.”

Earlier this year, a Commission-funded study set out a range of policy options, including new laws, to tackle the EU’s forest footprint and support global efforts to halt forest destruction.

Greenpeace calls on the Commission to swiftly table an action plan which includes new laws to ensure that neither products placed on the EU market, nor the financial sector, cause environmental and social impacts like deforestation, forest degradation, or human rights violations. Greenpeace also calls for policy proposals to help reduce Europe’s overconsumption of meat and dairy products, which is a driver of deforestation.

In November, seven countries called on the Commission to deliver an ambitious action plan on deforestation and forest degradation before the end of the year. The European Parliament also called for an action plan in September, which it said should include regulatory measures.

Forest destruction is a major cause of climate change and species extinction, and is often associated with human rights abuses. Scientists say the protection and restoration of forests need to play a major part in reducing global emissions and removing and storing carbon from the atmosphere.

The Commission is expected to launch a public consultation on deforestation within the next few weeks, and to publish more detailed plans in a communication paper in spring 2019.

 

Contacts:

Sébastien Risso – Greenpeace EU forest policy director: +32 (0)496 127009, sebastien.risso@greenpeace.org

Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 1911, pressdesk.eu@greenpeace.org

 

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Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.