The EU is one of the world’s largest importers of tropical deforestation and associated emissions, second only to China, according to a WWF report. Based on these findings the World Wildlife Foundation makes a plea for more focus on deforestation-free sourcing of raw materials.
According to WWF the report underlines the need for a European law. This law should address the entirety of the footprint of EU consumption on the planet’s forests and other ecosystems. Such as grasslands and wetlands. The report ‘Stepping up: The continuing impact of EU consumption on nature’ is based on data and insights compiled by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and through the transparency initiative Trase. According to WWF the report provides a look behind the scenes of EU trade, and its hand in tropical deforestation and the destruction of other ecosystems worldwide.
“Right now the EU is part of the problem. With the right legislation we could be part of the solution”, according to Anke Schulmeister-Oldenhove, Senior Forest Policy Officer at WWF’s European Policy Office, one of the lead authors of the report. “European legislation should prevent any product that has contributed to the destruction of nature from entering EU markets. Be that ‘legally’ or illegally – or human rights violations. It must also provide companies with clear, actionable rules.”
According to the report the EU is the second biggest importer of deforestation after China. In 2017, the EU was responsible for 16 percent of deforestation associated with international trade. This totals to 203,000 hectares and 116 million tonnes of CO₂. The EU was surpassed by China (24%) but outranked India (9%), the United States (7%) and Japan (5%).
Between 2005-2017, soy, palm oil and beef were the commodities with the largest embedded tropical deforestation imported into the EU. These products are followed by wood products, cocoa and coffee.
The largest EU economies were responsible for 80 percent of the EU’s embedded deforestation through their use and consumption. Among these economies are Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Poland.
The European feed federation Fefac has shown that a large part of the imported raw material used in feed, are classified as ‘guaranteed deforestation free’. The percentages vary depending on the country and raw material.
Fefac has recently adjusted the Soy Sourcing guidelines to include the criterium ‘deforestation free’ in the guidelines. This is not obligatory at the moment, but it is expected it will be in future.
The full WWF report can be found on the website of the WWF.
Also read: Global production of RTRS soy increases