On Tuesday 6 December the European Union reached an important agreement for the protection of the environment. Ban the importation of particular products, including coffee, cocoa and soybeans, where they are thought to contribute to deforestation. A bill welcomed with great satisfaction also by environmental groups.
The agreement, signed by the 27 European nations, in fact aims to guarantee “supply chains as free from the risk of causing deforestation”and it has even been defined “revolutionary” for what it will entail in practical terms.
Companies importing into Europe are required to ensure that the products are not produced on lands that have undergone the elimination of tree vegetation in a wooded or forested area, after December 31, 2020, and who comply with all laws of the country of origin.
The articles included in the new bill are many and of great agri-food importance, such as palm oil, livestock, soybeans, coffee, cocoa, timber and rubberas well as derivative products such as beef, furniture and chocolate.
The environmental problem arose as the huge quantities of demand, combined with an often illegal production, has stimulated massive deforestation in countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mexico and Guatemala.
L’Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in fact estimates that, for these purposes, a land area larger than the entire European Unionor about 420 million hectares, has been deforested worldwide in the last 30 years.
The president of the Environment Commission MEP, Pascal Canfin, praised the agreement and how its impact will affect the environment and the products that Europeans consume on a daily basis, stating: “It will have a radical effect. We talk about the coffee we drink for breakfast, the chocolate we eat, the charcoal in our barbecues and the paper in our books”.
Greenpeace, the well-known environmental non-governmental organization, has defined the bill “an important step forward”as well as the WWF who held it a result “historical and revolutionary”.
“This regulation is the first in the world to address global deforestation and will significantly reduce the European Union’s footprint on the environment“the World Wide Fund for Nature explained in a statement.
Large companies will have 18 months to comply with the new legislation, while smaller companies would have a slightly longer “grace period”. Hoping it won’t be found some ploy to fail the obligations officially adopted by the member countries and by the European Parliament.
“The new law will ensure that a number of key goods placed on the (European Union) market it will no longer contribute to deforestation and forest degradation in Europe and other parts of the world”the European Commission said in the official statement.
However, the question we cannot avoid asking is: Will the European Union’s commitment alone be enough to safeguard an environment that is heading towards a dramatic drift? Will this new stance succeed influence the ecological choices of other important polluting realities of the world? You think?
Speaking of which, did you know that deforestation in the Amazon forest has reached its highest level in 15 years?