European Interest

Europeans support new laws to combat global deforestation: polls

Flickr/Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade/
A burnt out tree stands where an entire forest used to in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.

An overwhelming majority of Europeans want new laws to ensure that the food they eat and the products they buy don’t drive global deforestation, according to a YouGov poll released today.

87% of those polled across 25 EU countries agreed that legislation was necessary to protect forests. 91% also said they cared deeply about forests and agreed that deforestation is harmful for people and wildlife.

The poll, which is released ahead of international biodiversity day on Wednesday 22 May, was commissioned by the Environmental Investigation Agency, Fern, Greenpeace and WWF.

Speaking on behalf of the NGOs, Hannah Mowat said: “Europeans have made it very clear: they understand the terrible consequences of deforestation and don’t want to be complicit in this tragedy. They don’t want to buy dairy products, steaks or snacks that are tainted by forest destruction. They want new laws ensuring that the simple act of shopping no longer means walking an ethical tightrope.”

The poll also concludes that the majority of EU citizens think neither their national governments (sixty-six per cent) nor the EU (sixty-one per cent) are doing enough to tackle global deforestation.

“Some countries, such as France or the Netherlands, are already acting to stop deforestation. But a piecemeal approach will not work, as companies can bypass the laws of one EU country by operating in another. The solution must be EU-wide regulation. This is the last chance for the EU to stand by its commitment to halt deforestation by 2020. Failing to act would be a black mark on M. Juncker’s environmental legacy,” Mowat said.

The poll is published at a time when the European Commission, which will be presided by Jean Claude Juncker until November 2019, is expected to unveil plans to step up EU action against deforestation. It remains unclear whether these will include proposals for new laws.

The European Parliament, governments, European citizens and NGOs have all called for regulatory measures to ensure that products placed on the EU market have not caused deforestation or violated human rights. Similarly, new laws should stop the EU financial sector from facilitating global deforestation.

The EU has made an international pledge to halt global deforestation by 2020. Yet it remains one of the largest markets for agricultural commodities, such as beef, palm oil, soy and cocoa, which have a major impact on the world’s forests. Agriculture in general is one of the main causes of the destruction of primary forests, according to recent data.

The poll was conducted in all European Union countries except Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta.

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