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EU wants to ban imports linked to deforestation — beef, coffee, and chocolate are included

EU wants to ban imports linked to deforestation — beef, coffee, and chocolate are included


Companies will soon have to prove that the products they sell to the European Union haven’t been contributing to deforestation, according to draft legislation introduced by the European Commission.


The EU is one of the main importers of global deforestation, only exceeded by China, according to a report on trade by WWF, and this move could send a strong signal worldwide for producers to be more environmentally conscious. 

Wanted: only deforestation-free products

The regulation will focus on six commodities: wood, soy, cattle, palm oil, coffee, and cocoa, as well as derived products such as chocolate, leather, and oil cakes. Imports of commodities in the EU have been linked to the loss of 3.5 million hectares of forests between 2005 and 2017 and to the release of 1.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

“Our deforestation regulation answers citizens’ calls to minimize the European contribution to deforestation and promote sustainable consumption,” EU Commission VP Frans Timmermans said in a statement. “It ensures that we only import these products if we can ascertain that they are deforestation-free and produced legally.”

When approved, the new law will create due diligence mandatory rules applicable to commodity exporters to the EU market. They will have to implement a strict traceability control, collecting coordinates of the land where the commodities were produced. This will ensure that only deforestation-free products enter the EU market.

The EU Commission will operate a benchmarking system to classify countries with a low, standard, or high risk of producing commodities or products that aren’t deforestation-free. The requirements for companies and government authorities will depend on the level of risk of the country, from simplified to enhanced due diligence. 

With the new system, the EU hopes to prevent deforestation and forest degradation. The EU Commission estimates the bloc will reduce at least 31.9 million metric tons of carbon emissions every year due to the EU consumption of the targeted commodities. This would also mean savings of up to $3.6 billion per year, the commission estimates.

“If we expect more ambitious climate and environmental policies from partners, we should stop exporting pollution and supporting deforestation ourselves,” the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said in a statement. “It’s the most ambitious legislative attempt to tackle this worldwide.”

Will it pass?

The draft will now have to be approved by the EU Parliament and by each EU member country, something that might take a while. It follows recommendations included in a Parliament report last year but it has a more limited scope, not addressing human rights abuses and not creating civil liability for companies that export goods to the EU.

As it is now, it only targets recent deforestation due to its 2020 cut-off date. But this could change as lawmakers discuss the details at the EU Parliament, with some suggesting an earlier starting at 2014 – which is the earliest satellite images are available. The regulation also gives commodity exporters a 12-month transition.

Strong opposition is expected from forested countries that rely on export to the EU. This is the case of Brazil, for example, which exports beef to several bloc member countries. Deforestation rates have been on the rise in the country amid lax policies by President Bolsonaro. Recent data showed higher deforestation in October this year and many see beef imports from places like Brazil as an important contributor to deforestation.

Source:

Fermin Koop at ZME Science



Average westerner’s eating habits lead to loss of four trees every year

Average westerner’s eating habits lead to loss of four trees every year

Research links consumption of foods such as coffee and chocolate to global deforestation

The average western consumer of coffee, chocolate, beef, palm oil and other commodities is responsible for the felling of four trees every year, many in wildlife-rich tropical forests, research has calculated.

Destruction of forests is a major cause of both the climate crisis and plunging wildlife populations, as natural ecosystems are razed for farming. The study is the first to fully link high-resolution maps of global deforestation to the wide range of commodities imported by each country across the world.

The research lays bare the direct links between consumers and the loss of forests across the planet. Chocolate consumption in the UK and Germany is an important driver of deforestation in Ivory Coast and Ghana, the scientists found, while beef and soy demand in the US, European Union and China results in forest destruction in Brazil.

Coffee drinkers in the US, Germany and Italy are a significant cause of deforestation in central Vietnam, the research shows, while timber demand in China, South Korea and Japan results in tree loss in northern Vietnam.

Normal scene in the Amazon

As a wealthy, populous country, the US has a particularly large deforestation footprint, being the main importer of a wide variety of commodities from tropical countries, including fruits and nuts from Guatemala, rubber from Liberia and timber from Cambodia. China bears the biggest responsibility for deforestation in Malaysia, resulting from imports of palm oil and other farm produce.

Consumption in G7 states accounts for an average loss of four trees a year per person, the research says; the US is above average with five trees being lost per capita. In five G7 countries – the UK, Japan, Germany, France, and Italy – more than 90% of their deforestation footprint was in foreign countries and half of this was in tropical nations.

Dr Nguyen Hoang, at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, in Kyoto, Japan, led the research and said the detailed maps could help target action to halt deforestation.

He added: “Policymakers and companies can get an idea of which supply chains are causing deforestation. If they know that, they can focus on those supply chains to find the specific problems and solutions.”

Full story by Damian Carrington at The Guardian


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On the Web This Week, 10 October

On the Web This Week, 10 October

On the web this week, the world’s Top 20 polluters revealed, how the international cocaine trade damages the environment, and the fashion industry’s latest trend is sustainability.

Picture credit: Guardian Design

This week, The Guardian revealed the 20 fossil fuel companies whose relentless exploitation of the world’s oil, gas and coal reserves can be directly linked to more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the modern era.

New data from world-renowned researchers reveals how this cohort of state-owned and multinational firms are driving the climate emergency that threatens the future of humanity, and details how they have continued to expand their operations despite being aware of the industry’s devastating impact on the planet.

Picture credit: Reuters/Fabian Bimmer

Since nations signed on to the Paris Agreement four years ago, committing to collectively lower carbon emissions to below 2 degrees Celsius, progress across the globe has been uneven and, sometimes, even discouraging.

But there is good news. Austin, Athens, Lisbon, and Venice have joined 26 other major cities in steadily reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new analysis published by a coalition of cities known as C40, ahead of its annual World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen.

Picture credit: Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images

The Verge reports that the cocaine trade, and efforts to stop it, are causing $214.6 million in damage every year. Drug-related deforestation is also driving people out of the region, and making climate change worse.

Picture credit: New York Times

Of all the trends that emerged from fashion month, the four-week-long circuit of ready-to-wear shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris that ended last week, the one that trumped all others was neither a skirt length nor a color nor a borrowed reference. It dominated runways in every single city; it became so ubiquitous that it was almost a cliché.

Forget street wear. Sustainability was the hottest look of the day.

South Africans are being encouraged to ditch the electric stove and braai more. According to experts lighting a fire is less harmful for the environment.

“If you want to do your bit for the climate then you don’t have to give up braaing because braaing is in fact it is carbon neutral,” said Prof Bob Scholes from Global Change Institute.

Researchers have created a lightweight prosthetic limb from discarded plastic, which they say could save healthcare providers millions and help tackle pollution. The artificial limbs were made by grinding down plastic bottles and spinning the grains into polyester yarns which were heated to produce a light, sturdy substance that could be easily moulded.

If you’re concerned about your plastic usage, and would like a quality alternative, why not try one of these reusable water bottles?

Did you enjoy this week’s stories? Have a story you’d like us to cover? Leave a comment below and let us know!