The European Parliament bans products linked to deforestation and the violation of the human rights of indigenous peoples
European Union lawmakers have backed a proposed law that would ban the sale in the 27-nation bloc of agricultural products linked to forest destruction and human rights abuses. The bill was supported by 453 votes to 57 with 123 abstentions. The European Parliament will now start negotiations on the final text with EU Member States.
Once approved, the law would require companies and producers to guarantee that products are “deforestation-free”. Companies would be obliged to verify that agricultural products sold in the EU were not produced on “deforested or degraded land anywhere in the world”, the parliament said.
“Recognizing that the EU is responsible for around 10% of global deforestation, we have no choice but to step up our efforts to halt global deforestation,” said Christophe Hansen, the lawmaker in charge of the report. of Parliament.
In addition, MPs proposed that banks and financial institutions be covered by the law to prevent them from investing in projects related to deforestation.
Citing data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the European Parliament said that some 420 million hectares of forest had been lost to deforestation between 1990 and 2020. This is a area larger than the EU.
The European Commission, which proposes EU laws and oversees how they are enacted, suggested last year that the legislation covered soy, livestock, palm oil, timber, cocoa and coffee.
According to the position adopted on Tuesday, lawmakers also want to include pork, sheep and goats, poultry, corn and rubber, as well as charcoal and printed paper products.
“MPs also want companies to check that goods are produced in accordance with international human rights law and respect the rights of indigenous peoples,” Parliament said.
The European Parliament voted in favor of the following key measures to strengthen the draft law tabled by the European Commission:
– stronger definitions of deforestation and forest degradation, which will ensure better protection of forests against agricultural expansion and destructive logging practices;
– better protection of human rights, in particular the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, which are often flouted when ecosystems are destroyed;
– a wider list of raw materials and products covered by the law – adding rubber, maize and other livestock (pigs, sheep, goats and poultry) to the six raw materials proposed by the Commission (oil palm, soy, coffee, cocoa, cattle and timber) – and resist the pressure to exclude leather;
– extend the law to cover European financial institutions, whose investment portfolios should be checked for links to projects and companies causing forest destruction.
Parliament also joined the Commission and national governments in supporting the need to trace products back to source, including through the use of geo-tracking, to verify that they do not come from deforested areas. , and ruled out any exemption or special treatment for products covered by certification schemes.
Despite these advances to protect forests, other ecosystems such as savannahs and wetlands remain under threat from agricultural expansion and the impact of EU consumption. However, Parliament approved a review clause that would allow the Commission to extend protection to all natural ecosystems in the coming year.
The Czech government, which holds the rotating EU presidency, will lead the talks on behalf of governments and is under pressure to conclude negotiations in time for the UN climate and biodiversity summits towards the end of 2022.