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EU attempts to smooth South American complaints over deforestation policy

The European Union's environment policy chief will tour South America this week in an attempt to alleviate fierce criticism from the region over a landmark EU law that will ban imports of goods linked to the destruction of forests.
From the end of December, the EU will require importers of soy, beef, coffee, palm oil and other commodities to provide proof their supply chain does not cause deforestation.
Deforestation fuels climate change and is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Amazonian countries. Forests help curb global warming because their trees absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide.
Countries including Brazil and Malaysia have criticised the EU law, which they say imposes trade barriers and extra costs on their economies, and is protectionist.
"It will bring changes compared to the way we traded in the past. My intention is to respond, to calm, any fears about the possible consequences," EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius told reporters on Wednesday.
"We see it as a turning point in the global fight against deforestation," he added.
Paraguay, Bolivia and Ecuador, which Sinkevicius will visit this week, were among the countries to sign a statement at the World Trade Organisation last month criticising trade-altering green policies.
That statement urged countries "to refrain from imposing of unilateral trade-related environmental measures that create unnecessary obstacles to trade or arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between countries".
"Paraguay has been quite vocal in criticizing the EU deforestation regulation so I'll be trying to discuss the situation there and stress how we want to work with them on setting up traceability systems," Sinkevicius said.
He said countries' biggest concern with the EU law was an upcoming system that will label countries as high, standard or low risk for deforestation - and the potential reputational damage of being labelled as "high risk".
Sikevicius declined to confirm when the EU will notify countries of their risk level.
A person familiar with the matter, who was not authorized to speak to the media, told Reuters EU elections this year would delay rolling out the risk ratings until 2025, as the methodology would need to be set by the next EU Commission.
The EU law banning the import of goods linked to deforestation would go into effect at the end of 2024 anyway, with all countries initially being granted a "standard" level of risk.

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  • Ann Nyambura

    2 w

    It's important for all parties to engage in constructive dialogue to tackle the root causes of deforestation.

    • Rotich Kim

      4 w

      we need more talk about our environment

      • George Kariuki

        5 w

        Dialogue is key - EU should work with countries like Brazil to find solutions for #TraceableSupplyChains. Protecting our forests is non-negotiable! Let's find ways to ensure fair trade and stop forest destruction.

        • Rashid Kamau

          5 w

          Banning import of goods linked with deforestation is essential to avoiding the worst effects of global climate change.

          • Esther Wanjiku

            5 w

            We hope they can find a mutual ground to find solutions.

            • walter lungayi

              5 w

              This signify a crucial step towards fostering collaboration on environmental issues and a commitment to engaging with nations to combat deforestation effectively. This approach highlights the importance of international cooperation in tackling environmental challenges that transcend borders. As deforestation poses a significant threat to global biodiversity and climate stability, initiatives promoting sustainable practices are essential for achieving meaningful progress in environmental conservation efforts.

              • Chris Ndungu

                5 w

                The admirable form of solving a problem facing the climate is by having a smart dialogue. When people come together with common agenda of promoting sustainable practices in regard to climate matters is the way to go.

                • Princess

                  5 w

                  It's heartening to see efforts to bridge gaps and foster understanding for the collective goal of preserving our planet's invaluable ecosystems.

                  • Munene Mugambi

                    5 w

                    I would say that this is a welcome move by the European Union. At times we are concerned with effects without taking into account the causes of the said effects and this move will ensure sustainable production methods are put in place and followed by anyone who still wants to run a business within Europe.

                    • Jane Wangui

                      5 w

                      Such laws should be put up so as to help curb the effects of deforestation as the effects are fatal

                      • Richard S

                        5 w

                        #Australian practices already under scrutiny

                        • johnte ndeto

                          5 w

                          Dialogue and cooperation are key to finding common ground and promoting sustainable practices in regard to climate matters

                          • Boniface Kuria

                            5 w

                            This is good news for European consumers. Knowing that the product you buy are not a product of deforestation.

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