EU agrees deal to ban products which fuel deforestation

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union lawmakers and governments on Tuesday reached an agreement banning the import of products that contribute to deforestation around the world.

The preliminary agreement, which has yet to be formally adopted by the EU parliament, requires companies to verify that the goods they sell in the EU have not led to deforestation and forest degradation around the world from 2021.

Companies must be able to demonstrate that the goods they import comply with the rules in the country of origin, including in the field of human rights and the protection of indigenous peoples.

Forests around the world are increasingly threatened by clearing for timber and agriculture, including soybeans and palm oil. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 420 million hectares (1.6 million square miles) of forest – an area larger than the EU – was destroyed between 1990 and 2020.

Pascal Canfin, chair of the European Parliament’s environment committee, said the agreement by the bloc of 27 countries is a “world first”.

“Europe will close its doors to the everyday products that have the greatest impact on world deforestation if their importers cannot prove, with supporting documents, that they do not come from deforested areas,” he said. “It’s the coffee we drink in the morning, the chocolate we eat, the charcoal we use in our barbecues, the paper in our books. It’s radical, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

More than 100 countries pledged last year to halt and reverse global deforestation by 2030 as part of the fight against climate change. Forests are an important natural resource for removing greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere, as plants absorb carbon dioxide as they grow.

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