Commission sets out to combat deforestation, waste trafficking and unhealthy soils

Commission sets out to combat deforestation, waste trafficking and unhealthy soils

It adopted 3 new initiatives that will help make the European Green Deal a reality

On 17 November, the European Commission adopted three new proposals that will help it achieve the goals it has outlined in the European Green Deal (i.e., to become climate neutral by 2050). The three initiatives are among the most ambitious legislative attempts of the Commission, aiming to tackle deforestation, waste shipment, and unhealthy soil.

Deforestation regulation

In a press release, the European Commission shared the alarming finding that in just thirty years (from 1990 to 2020), the world has lost 420 million hectares of forest. To put things in perspective, this is equivalent to an area that is larger than the European Union.

To curb this environmental issue, the proposed regulation would guarantee that products on the EU market do not contribute to forest degradation or deforestation. According to the European Commission, the main driver of this issue is agricultural expansion that is linked to products such as coffee, wood, cocoa, palm oil, beef, and soy, among others.

Therefore, companies will face due diligence rules to ensure that the commodities they supply do not harm the environment. Beyond this, the European Commission will join forces with big consumer companies. In this way, the deforestation regulation will result in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss.

Waste Management

With this initiative, the European Commission will set stricter rules relating to the export of waste and waste trafficking. What is more, it will promote circular economies and a more efficient system for the circulation of waste.

Expanding on this, it reports that it will enforce restrictions relating to waste exports to non-OECD countries: these will only be permitted if the countries want to receive the waste and can prove that they manage it in a sustainable way.

Within the EU, the new regulation will make it easier for waste to reenter the circular economy. This will subsequently reduce the need to rely on primary raw materials and will also encourage innovation. Finally, the European Commission will set up an EU Waste Shipment Enforcement Group to strengthen action against waste trafficking.

Healthy soil strategy

The third initiative relates to the condition of soils in the EU after findings revealed that 70% of them are currently in poor condition. This percentage is striking as healthy soils are reportedly the foundation for a whopping 95% of the food we consume. Taking this further, they host over 25% of the world’s biodiversity and are the largest terrestrial carbon pool.

For these reasons, the European Commission has adopted a new soil strategy that seeks to ensure that all soil ecosystems are in good and healthy condition by 2050. In addition to this, the strategy will increase the soil carbon in agricultural land, prevent desertification, and restore degraded land.

Aside from this, the new strategy further aims to ensure that soil receives the same level of protection as water, marine environment, and air. Discussing the importance of these three initiatives, Virginijus Sinkevičius Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries stated:

“With these proposals, we are taking our responsibility and walking the talk by lowering our global impact on pollution and biodiversity loss.”



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