The European Commission is drafting laws to require companies selling goods in the EU market to conduct strict due diligence to ensure that their products have not led to deforestation and forest degradation anywhere in the world, as reported by Reuters on December 5. The new regulations put an emphasis on products including palm oil, beef, soy, and coffee, which are viewed as the main driver of deforestation. Relevant companies will need to prove that their products are deforestation-free or face penalties. Once the new law comes into force, large companies will have 18 months to prove that their products are not related to deforestation after 2020, whereas small companies will have a longer adaption period.
Deforestation is one of the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, convert them into carbon and store them. Statistics have shown that tropical deforestation has contributed to approximately 20% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation will also lead to biodiversity loss, as animals lose their habitat and are thereby driven to extinction. As a result, the issue is a key focus at the United Nations COP15 biodiversity conference in Montreal this week, as nations seek a global deal to protect nature. The EU hopes that its new rules will help curb global deforestation, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect biodiversity.