Despite food and agriculture industries’ misinformation campaign to delay anti-deforestation legislation, the European public doesn’t buy their excuses. Seven out of 10 people surveyed in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and Spain think ‘industry is using the crisis in Ukraine as an excuse to continue buying and selling products that cause deforestation’, a new YouGov poll  published today finds.
However, the latest text outlining EU countries’ position on this regulation (to be voted on 28 June) shows national environment ministers are caving in to industry lobbying and are set to weaken the draft law.
The multi-country poll shows almost 9 out of 10 Europeans support the strengthening of the draft law to include financial institutions and protect Indigenous Peoples rights.
The overwhelming public support for a Deforestation-Free Law is shared across political ideologies and across political parties: 97% of Macron supporters, 95% of supporters of the ruling Spanish Socialist Party, 93% of Italy’s Five-Star Movement supporters, 92% of Germany’s SPD supporters and 90% of Denmark’s Social Democrats supporters support this regulation.
The poll also shows that voters would reward Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and parties working to pass a strong law. More than half (55%) of Europeans would be more likely to vote for their MEP and her/his party in the next election if she or he worked to enact a robust EU Deforestation-Free Law.
Carlo de Masi, president of Italian consumer group Adiconsum, said: “This poll shows that Europeans care about their impact on nature and Indigenous Peoples, and want industry and politicians to act consistently with those values. If the EU Deforestation-Free Law is weakened, it’s going to seriously undermine the trust of their voters and customers.”
David Sánchez, director of Spanish consumer confederation CECU, said:"European consumers already expressed their support for an ambitious law to keep deforestation out of their shopping carts in another poll three years ago. Now, consumers insist they don't want lawmakers to allow the industry and lobby groups to weaken the EU Deforestation-Free Law. We need it to be strict to ensure consumers shop sustainable options only".
Powerful meat, palm oil and chocolate industry lobbies are exerting political pressure in Brussels and key national capitals to water down the draft regulation that would require companies to ensure products sold in the EU are deforestation-free.
Julia Christian, campaigner at Fern, said: “A major takeaway from this poll is that Europeans want their leaders to be bolder in tackling the scourge of deforestation. They clearly want MEPs and EU governments to strengthen the draft law. Specifically, Europeans overwhelmingly want the law to require companies to stop selling products that were made by grabbing the land of Indigenous Peoples, who are the best guardians of the forests. EU environment ministers need to show leadership tomorrow and adopt a regulation that requires businesses to uphold communities’ land rights in line with international standards.”
Boris Patentreger, senior director of France with Mighty Earth: “French people want to go beyond what the EU Commission has put on the table and are calling on MEPs and the French government to strengthen the draft law. The French Environment Minister needs to show leadership tomorrow and agree to a robust law that protects Indigenous Peoples’ rights and covers other critical ecosystems such as savannahs and wetlands."
Numerous studies show that Indigenous Peoples and local communities are nature’s best protectors. Indigenous Peoples occupy half of the world’s great forests, which store more carbon and have lower rates of deforestation and degradation than other areas.
Almost 1.2 million citizens called on the EU to pass a strong regulation to stop imported deforestation, uniting their voices in the #Together4Forests campaign. As ministers are discussing key aspects of this law in the Environment Council meeting on 28 June, citizens are actively asking their MEPs for nature destruction-free products on the EU market.
Europe is one of the largest drivers of global deforestation in the world, second only to China. The EU is responsible for 16% of tropical deforestation linked to international trade through the imports of commodities such as beef, soy, palm oil, rubber, timber, cacao and coffee and their derived products.
Agriculture drives almost 90% of tropical deforestation, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Notes to the Editor:
 This is a YouGov poll commissioned for a broad coalition of environmental and consumer organizations including Fern, Ecologistas en Acción, Envol Vert, Deutsche Umwelthilfe, CECU, Adiconsum, Zero, Verdens Skove to understand consumer attitudes towards the EU Deforestation Free Law in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Any references to results among Europeans in this press release shows the pooled survey results across the five countries polled.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 5,000 adults; 1,000 in each market.
Fieldwork was undertaken between 27 May and 8 June 2022. The survey was carried out online.
The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and Spain (aged 18+).