The European Union has agreed to strengthen regulation targeting products that contribute to deforestation.
New regulation aims to set strong, mandatory due diligence rules for companies importing to or exporting from Europe. Businesses will need to prove that their products do not contain materials produced deforested land.
Commodities affected include cattle, poultry, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, soy and maize among others.
“Companies will also be required to collect precise geographical information on the farmland where the commodities that they source have been grown,” it said, “so that these commodities can be checked for compliance.” In addition, member states need to create penalties for non-compliance, it said.
The EU plans to risk assess countries and global regions depending on their levels of deforestation.
Businesses hope that the rules will help to unify regulation in this area – current measures can be difficult to track.
“The regulation is also expected to fuel the trend towards sustainable sourcing practices and increased transparency, as well as a possible push for enhanced sector governance by all actors in global supply chains,” an article posted on the development hub IISD said. “Possible spill over effects of the obligations are also expected, for example from upcoming investments in traceability systems to comply with the regulation, which might be useful for future business models.”
The requirements are similar to those under the UK’s Environment Act. But the focus of the UK law is on products produced on land that has been subject to illegal deforestation. The new EU sanctions applies to all land.
No all countries welcome the proposed rules – which could come into effect as early as December 2024.
Canada, for example, complained that the rules on forest degradation were too burdensome and would hurt trade between Canada and the EU. The BBC reported that Ailish Campbell, Canada’s ambassador to the EU, had requested delays and more definition of what would fall under those requirements.