The European Parliament’s environment committee voted to make suppliers of timber to Europe guard against illegal logging, bolstering a push to fight climate change through worldwide forest protection.
The committee approved a draft European Union law that would force companies to use a system of due diligence to ascertain that the timber they sell in the 27-nation EU was harvested legally. About a fifth of EU timber imports may come from illegal sources, according to the European Commission, the bloc’s regulatory arm, which proposed the legislation in October.
In giving its backing today in Brussels, the Parliament’s environment panel tightened the proposal by adding penalties for breaches of the rules and spelling out control obligations on EU nations. With the due-diligence obligation falling on the companies that are the first to place timber on the EU market, the committee also extended product-information requirements to businesses throughout the supply chain.
The law needs the support of the full Parliament, which is due to vote in April, and of EU governments, whose agriculture ministers are in charge of the matter. Any final EU agreement may take a year or longer to reach.
The EU is stepping up efforts to protect forests as part of its fight against global warming. Forests store carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for higher world temperatures, and deforestation is responsible for about 20 percent of global CO2 emissions.
The draft legislation on timber trade complements goals by the EU to reduce its own greenhouse gases by a fifth in 2020 compared with 1990 and lessen reliance on fossil fuels -- a root cause of climate change -- by more than doubling the current share of renewable energy such as wind power.
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