Most recently, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released a report on deforestation. According to this document, the European Union is the world’s second largest importer of tropical deforestation behind China. This inglorious title also encompasses France, one of the most culpable countries of the union.
Deforestation of the equivalent of five million football fields in two years
The European Union would be the second largest forest destroyer in the world tropical, according to a WWF report published on April 14, 2021. Its title leaves little room for doubt: “When Europeans consume, forests are consumed”. Before the EU, China is the world’s leading importer of tropical deforestation. In contrast, the EU is ahead of the United States, a country known for its lax environmental attitude and its largely climate-skeptic population.
In 2017, EU imports represented 16% of deforestation in connection with world trade. This percentage is less alarming than that of China (24%), but more unfavorable than those of India (9%), the United States (7%) or even Japan (5%).
Between 2005 and 2007, 3.5 million hectares of forest and natural ecosystems have been cleared or converted to meet EU imports, the equivalent of five million football fields. To put this in perspective, over these two years, the forest equivalent of the city of Lyon was razed every week. These imports represented 1,807 million tonnes of CO2or 40% of the EU’s annual emissions.
Eight countries responsible for 80% of EU imports
The European Union now has 27 member states. And yet, only eight of them are responsible for 80% of the union’s imports related to deforestation. These countries are France, Germany, Spain, UK, Netherlands, Poland, Italy and Belgium. In this ranking of the worst European countries consuming deforestation, France occupies 6th place. Between 2005 and 2017, the leading trio of raw materials implicating the largest tropical deforestation imported by the EU were soybeans (31%), palm oil (24%) and beef (10%). As for the exporting countries concerned, we find Brazil (30%), Indonesia (22%), Argentina (10%) as well as Paraguay (8%).
The report comes as the European Commission is in the process of presenting a proposed legislation to fight against deforestation. And the WWF believes that this law will have to incorporate binding measures for companies by ensuring that the products marketed by these same companies have no link with the destruction of forests or the conversion of natural ecosystems.