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15 Sep 2021

The Guardian

Leaked EU anti-deforestation law contains loopholes, incl. omission of fragile ecosystems, and environmentally impactful products like maize & rubber, say campaigners

"Leaked EU anti-deforestation law omits fragile grasslands and wetlands", 14 September 2021

The fragile Cerrado grasslands and the Pantanal wetlands, both under threat from soy and beef exploitation, have been excluded from a European Union draft anti-deforestation law, campaigners have said, and there are many other concerning loopholes.

The European Commission has pledged to introduce a law aimed at preventing beef, palm oil and other products linked to deforestation from being sold in the EU single market of 450 million consumers. But campaigners said a leaked impact assessment reveals “significant omissions” in the plans, including the exclusion of endangered grasslands and wetlands, as well as products that raise environmental concerns, such as rubber and maize.

The long-awaited draft regulation, expected to be published in December, will be limited to controlling EU imports of beef, palm oil, soy, wood, cocoa and coffee, according to a report seen by the Guardian...

...Campaigners said the EU risks getting it wrong. They criticised the exclusion from the proposals of rubber, leather, maize and other kinds of meat, linking pigs and chickens to “embedded deforestation” through the use of soy as animal feed.

The document also reveals a rebuff to calls to include grasslands, wetlands and other ecosystems under the protection of the upcoming law...

...The document also reveals that the law “will not specifically target the financial sector”, a blow to campaigners who argued that European banks play a role in fuelling deforestation through their lending.

While the EU agreed a plan to tackle illegal logging in 2003, the bloc has been slower to try to prevent deforestation caused by legal trade. As Europe plants more trees at home, politicians have come under increasing pressure to tackle how the EU’s appetite for beef, cocoa, coffee and palm oil drives deforestation beyond its borders.

EU consumption of such commodities is behind 10% of global deforestation, according to the commission.

The European Commission, which does not usually comment on leaked documents, did not respond to a request for comment. The draft regulation will have to be agreed by MEPs and environment ministers before it becomes law.