The European Commission’s new feasibility study giving options to fight deforestation has found that a new regulation would be needed for the EU to tackle deforestation effectively.
The study offers three possible options:
- Publish a new Communication on Deforestation without requiring any new measures
- Introduce new, non-legislative actions as part of an Action Plan
- Introduce new legislative action including placing mandatory due diligence on companies importing and consuming forest-risk commodities
But it also recognises that only one holds real promise. It states that the third option “should have the greatest impact on the objective while at the same time requiring the largest effort and time on the part of the EU”.
NGOs and even major companies agree, as Fern interviews revealed: voluntary commitments to zero deforestation and sustainability labels alone do not work. Most companies do not have overarching deforestation commitments, and those that do are not close to achieving them.
Crucially, the European Commission must now act on the study to meet its commitment to halt deforestation by 2020. The good news is that the biggest Member State importers of goods driving deforestation are pushing the Commission for action.
At the Environment Council in March 2018, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Denmark and France – all members of the Amsterdam Declaration group – pushed other Member States to join them in urging the Commission to propose, as soon as possible, an ambitious strategy to combat imported deforestation. They also encouraged others to step up action to stop deforestation.
Strong commitments are needed on deforestation all the more given the fact that the Commission is currently doing everything it can to finalise a free trade agreement with Mercosur countries, the hottest deforestation region.