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EU agrees to law preventing import of goods linked to deforestation

A new EU law was adopted on Tuesday that prevents companies from selling into the EU market coffee, beef, soy and other commodities linked to deforestation.

Companies will have to submit a due diligence statement outlining how their supply chains are not contributing to the destruction of forests before selling items into the EU, or they could be fined.

The European Parliament’s lead negotiator, Christophe Hansen hoped that the regulation will give impetus to the protection of forests around the globe and inspire other countries at the COP15.

Deforestation will be in focus at the U.N. COP15 conference this week, where countries will seek a global deal to protect nature. The European Parliament and EU member countries struck a deal on the law early on Tuesday.

In addition to soy, beef, palm oil, wood, cocoa, and coffee, some other derived products will also be affected, such as leather, chocolate, and furniture. Several palm oil derivatives, rubber, charcoal, and charcoal derivatives were included at the request of EU legislators.

There would need to be “verifiable” information showing that the commodities were not grown on land deforested after 2020 and when and where they were produced. Fines of up to 4 percent of a company’s turnover could be imposed if it fails to comply.

Brazil, Indonesia, and Colombia, among other countries affected by the new rules, say they are burdensome and expensive. In addition, supply chains can span multiple countries, which makes monitoring certification difficult.

While some environmental advocates in Brazil praised the law, others said it did not go far enough. In addition to dense, closed forests, there are other wooded areas that are not covered by the law.

Consequently, 600,000 square kilometers of woodland in Brazil’s Cerrado savanna, the fastest growing agricultural frontier, would be exempt from the law, according to Cerrado Institute, a Brazilian non-profit.

“The European Union thinks it’s alright to consume products linked to losses of the most biodiverse savanna on the planet? That doesn’t seem smart,” said Yuri Salmona, director of the Cerrados Institute.

EU officials said they would review whether to add protections to other wooded areas in one year and to other critical ecosystems in two years.

The legislation must now be formally approved by EU countries and the European parliament. Upon enactment, the law will take effect 20 days later. Large companies will have 18 months to comply, while smaller firms will have 24 months.

Member nations will be required to perform compliance checks on 9 percent of companies exporting from countries with a high risk of deforestation, 3 percent for countries with a standard risk, and 1 percent for countries with a low risk.

EU officials said they would work with affected countries to build their capacity to implement the rules.

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