The European Parliament on Wednesday approved a landmark deforestation law to ban imports into the European Union that come from any land that was deforested since December 31, 2020.
Companies that sell goods into the EU will be required to produce a due diligence statement and verifiable information proving their goods were not grown on land deforested after 2020, or risk hefty fines.
The rules aim to eliminate deforestation from the supply chains of a range of everyday items sold in Europe. It will apply to soy, beef, palm oil, wood, cocoa, coffee, rubber, charcoal, and derived products including leather, chocolate and furniture.
The EU is the second-largest market for consumption of the targeted products after China.
The law does not target any one country, but has faced pushback from some that it would affect. Indonesia and Malaysia, the world's largest palm oil exporters, have accused the EU of blocking market access for their palm oil. The EU is the world's third-largest palm oil importer.
Malaysia has said it could stop exporting palm oil to the EU in response to the law, while palm oil smallholders warn that they cannot comply with its requirement to prove where goods were produced, using geo-location data.
The EU Parliament approved a deal on the rules, which was agreed by EU negotiators last year. The law needs formal approval from EU countries before it can enter into force. Once that happens, large companies would have 18 months to comply, and smaller firms 24 months.
Companies that fail to comply could face fines of up to 4% of a company's turnover in an EU member state. EU countries will carry out compliance checks to enforce the rules.
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, estimates that an aggregate area of land bigger than the European Union, or some 420 million hectares (more than one billion acres), has been deforested around the world over the past three decades.
Deforestation is responsible for about 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change, and the landmark law aims to tackle the EU's contribution to this.
The European Parliament estimates Europe is responsible for around 10 percent of de-forested land around the planet. Illegal production has spurred massive deforestation in countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Mexico and Guatemala.
European consumers can now rest assured that they will no longer be unwittingly complicit in deforestation, said Parliament's negotiator on the law, Christophe Hansen.