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EU legislates to ban coffee imports linked to deforestation

Proposed law would require companies to declare products, including coffee, cocoa, palm oil, soya and wood, have not contributed to deforestation before being imported into the EU

Photo credit: Tetiana Shyshkina

Importers of coffee to the EU could soon be required to declare that products are not linked to deforestation.
According to new legislation proposed by the bloc, companies selling products considered ‘main drivers for deforestation’, including coffee, palm oil, soya and wood, must produce a due diligence statement that goods placed on the EU market have not contributed to forest degradation anywhere in the world after 31 December 2020.
The new rules also protect the human rights of local and indigenous people, with firms that fail to comply facing hefty fines – up to 4% of annual turnover.
“This important new tool will protect forests globally and cover more commodities and products such as rubber, printed paper and charcoal. Moreover, we ensured that the rights of indigenous people, our first allies in fighting deforestation, are effectively protected. We also secured a strong definition of forest degradation which will cover an extensive area of forest,” said EU rapporteur and MEP Christophe Hansen (EPP, LU)
The EU Parliament and Council will need to approve the law, which will come into force 20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal, with some articles applying 18 months later.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 420 million hectares of forest — an area larger than the EU — were lost to deforestation between 1990 and 2020. EU consumption represents around 10% of global deforestation, with Palm oil and soya accounting for more than two-thirds of this figure.
Coffee is also a source of deforestation as land is cleared is for cultivation, particularly as global heating reduces the area of viable land and pushes farms to higher altitudes. 
According to a 2021 from the Nature, Ecology and Evolutionary journal, the average Westerner's coffee consumption can lead to the deforestation of approximately four trees a year.

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