Graphic from Stolen Goods report which charted extent of EU's complicity in illegal deforestation
The former head of UN climate negotiations has used a speech
in Brussels to demand the EU acts to stop its agricultural imports driving
“Deforestation represents a significant threat for the
climate, and Europe ought to focus on the impact of its consumption abroad,”
said Christiana Figueres, former secretary-general of the UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and one of the architects of the
Addressing an audience of EU officials as climate week
opened in New York, she described forestry and agriculture as the “forgotten
sector” of climate action.
“The whole food, land and forest issue is one package that
hasn’t received enough attention,” Figueres said, adding that the EU must take
responsibility for its role as a major importer of commodities that drive
clearances. She called on the EU to develop an action plan to tackle the issue,
echoing a resolution passed
by the EU parliament earlier this year.
A 2014 study authored by Earthsight director Sam Lawson
demonstrated that the EU is among the world’s biggest importers of products
resulting from illegal deforestation.
Stolen Goods: the EU’scomplicity in illegal tropical deforestation estimated that, in
2012 alone, the EU imported EUR 6 billion of soy, beef, leather and palm oil
that had been grown or reared on land illegally cleared of forests in the
tropics. It found that, between 2000 and 2012, one football pitch of forest was
illegally felled every two minutes to supply the EU with these commodities.
The EU is already committed to acting on deforestation. In
2008, it pledged to reduce gross tropical forest loss by 50 percent by 2020,
and halt it altogether by 2030. It reiterated this commitment in 2014 by endorsing
the New York Declaration on
Forests, which included a specific pledge to tackle deforestation resulting
from the production of agricultural commodities.
EU members Germany, France, Holland, the UK, Denmark and
Italy have also signed the Amsterdam
Declaration, which strengthened their commitment to work together to
eliminate deforestation from agricultural commodity supply chains by 2020.
Most recently, in April this year, the EU Parliament passed
a resolution calling
on the European Commission to develop an ‘EU Action Plan on Deforestation’.
Despite these many commitments, however, on current trends
Europe’s contribution to global deforestation is set to rise
by more than a quarter by 2030, according to a draft EU analysis which
leaked earlier this year.