The EU must act soon to address deforestation caused by European consumption of products such as cocoa.
This was the point underscored by the governments of Germany, France, the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy and Norway – the Amsterdam Declarations Partnership – in a letter to the European Commission in November 2018.
They noted that deforestation continues “at alarming rates, with as much as 80 per cent of global forest loss being driven by expansion of agricultural land”.
To meet the UN goal of stopping global deforestation by 2020, the signatories urged the European Commission to quickly produce a roadmap for developing an ambitious EU Action Plan on deforestation – “in the course of 2018.”
The call for action was echoed in France’s National Strategy on Imported Deforestation, released on 14 November 2018, which called for a strong EU Action Plan on deforestation, including “European due diligence legislation for forest risk products.”
In late November 2018, the European Commission underlined the crucial, positive role forests and land should play in fighting climate change, as it called for the European Union (EU) to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The Commission also recognised the multiple risks to the climate with scaling up forest-based bioenergy, taking on board growing evidence that bioenergy can have a negative impact on the climate.
Organisations such as Fern welcomed the recent addition of a scenario that is compatible with 1.5 degrees, and that looks to increase the amount of CO2 taken up by land by 66 per cent from today’s levels.
However, they said it is critical to examine more closely how the EU plans to achieve this. Recent research shows that the biggest wins come from restoring existing forests, something which the Commission has chosen not to include.
The EU said it will release a communication on ‘Stepping up EU Action against Deforestation and Forest Degradation’ in spring 2019, and Fern is calling on it to ensure that a new regulation is included as part of a suite of actions that are needed to tackle the EU’s impact on global deforestation.