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EU bans the sale of products linked to deforestation

In a move that prevents further devastation of forests around the world, the European Union has agreed to place a legal ban on the sale of products fuelling deforestation.

Although the number of people purchasing eco-friendly products is on the rise, many popular brands have continued to sneak environmentally damaging ingredients into their formulas without us noticing.

For example, common foods like peanut butter, cereal bars, and biscuits often contain palm oil. So far, around 27 million hectares of forests have been cleared to make room on the fertile soil to plant the trees which provide this oil.

Striving to reach 2030 green targets set out at last year’s COP meeting, the EU has agreed to ban the sale of products linked to rapid and unsustainable deforestation.

Products including palm oil, as well as coffee, lumber, cocoa, rubber, and soy, will need to go through a strict certification process before being approved.

Imported products such as chocolate, furniture, and beef will be refused if they make use of poorly sourced ingredients or materials.

By now, we all know that each small positive change we make in our lives contributes to a larger impact.

Member of the European Parliament Pascal Canfin reiterated this by saying that the difference is made by ‘the coffee we have for breakfast, the chocolate we eat, the coal in our barbecues, the paper in our books.’

He also assured European consumers that the price of items will not be altered as a result of the new law.

The biggest changes will be felt by companies, which will be required to thoroughly assess supply chains and declare the origin of the products being sold. The ban requires any items sourced from farmland legally or illegally deforested after 2020 to be prohibited.

Along with protecting biodiversity, the law also requires companies to ensure that any products they import do not cause harm to local communities or human rights. A great start, though it’s worth mentioning many Indigenous Peoples argue that human rights laws do not sufficiently protect their communities.

The EU has stated that the new legislation will save 100,000 football pitches in forestry and could see carbon emissions drop by around 32 million tons annually. Greenpeace called the provisional agreement a ‘major breakthrough for forests’.

The law will come into effect 20 days after it is formally accepted, which is expected to happen early next year. Traders will have 18 months to comply, while smaller companies will be given 2 years to adjust their product ranges.

Any company refusing to comply will face fines of up to 4 percent of their annual EU turnover.

This is amazing news for the environment, as well as a strong indicator that world leaders are keeping their promise to end deforestation by 2030, but international trade relations are sure to take a blow.

Canada’s ambassador told the EU that their trade relationship will be fractured by the law, at least for a period of time. But making the necessary steps to preserve biodiversity was never going to benefit everyone at once – hence why they take so long to approve.

With time, trade agreements and forestry practices can be altered and improved to meet trading laws. What’s most important is we stop the mistreatment of the natural world, which is exactly what the EU has accomplished here.

How’s that for good news Friday?