The European Council, the body that sets the political agenda of the European Union (EU), agreed on a proposal to limit the entry and trade of commodities where production has contributed to “deforestation or forest degradation” worldwide.
The agreement sets rules for operators who work with palm oil, beef, wood, coffee, cocoa, and soybeans, as well as certain derivatives such as leather, chocolate, and furniture.
“We must ensure that the products we consume in Europe do not contribute to the depletion of the planet’s forests. The innovative text we have adopted will make it possible to fight deforestation in the EU and outside it. This is a big step forward that illustrates our ambitions towards the climate and biodiversity,” said French Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher.
According to the European Council, EU political leaders also agreed to “simplify and clarify” the environmental due diligence system that governs commodity market activity. A comparative assessment system was also adopted, classifying the risk of deforestation for specific productions into three levels.
Other measures agreed on were regarding EU emissions trading system, emissions and removals from land use, land-use change, and forestry, the creation of a social climate fund (SCF) and new CO2 emission performance standards for cars and vans.
Among the most eye-catching measures are the addition of maritime shipping in the EU emissions trading system (ETS), the creation of a new, separate emissions trading system for the buildings and road transport sectors, the allocated €59 billion for the SCF, the overall objective to remove 310 million tons of CO2 equivalent by improving land and forestry use, and the end of the sale of combustion-engine cars by 2035.
Frans Timmermans, the Commission's Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, told reporters that it is a very good day for the European Green Deal, and a very good day for the European Union.