European Union announces proposals on combating deforestation, waste management
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European Union announces proposals on combating deforestation, waste management

The European Union Wednesday announced a series of proposals to address deforestation, sustainable waste management, and soil erosion as part of its pledge to address the effects of climate change.

Vice President of the College of Commissioners Frans Timmermans, alongside Commissioner Viginijus Sinkevičius, announced the proposals at a press conference. Timmermans stated that he believes “these initiatives show that the European Union is serious about the green transition and . . . keeps moving forward with it.”

The proposed regulation to curb EU-driven deforestation and forest degradation would introduce new rules that ensure that products available to EU citizens do not contribute to global deforestation. The regulation would set mandatory due diligence rules for companies wishing to participate within the EU market, with the overall goal of reducing contributory reasoning for continued deforestation across the planet.

The revised regulation on shipments of waste seeks to simplify the established procedures considerably, in an effort to reduce EU member-states’ reliance on primary raw materials and waste trafficking. The proposed regulation would restrict waste exports destined for non-OECD countries, and improve monitoring of exports destined for OECD members. Non-OECD countries will only be allowed to import waste if there are third-party countries that are willing to receive certain waste materials regulated under the proposal. The proposal also includes a general export prohibition of hazardous waste to non-OCED countries.

The proposed EU Soil Strategy sets a framework for protection, restoration, and sustainable use of soils through a combination of voluntary and legally binding measures. The proposal recognizes that approximately 70 percent of the soil in the EU is currently in poor condition, and that reversing the trend could yield nearly €1.2 trillion for the union per year.

The framework prioritizes combating desertification, restoring degraded land, as well as reducing the use of hazardous chemical pesticides by 50 percent by 2030.

All three policies align with the European Green Deal, which is the overarching policy prioritization that seeks to “transform the EU into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy.” The Green Deal, the mandates of which echo those of other industrialized powers, seeks to implement policies reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and policies decoupling economic growth from resource use. This is done in an effort to reduce the amount of damage done by climate change.