Thursday

15th Nov 2018

Opinion

Parliament's rainforest vote is a challenge for Macron

  • Deforestation. Chopping down millennial rainforests is deeply unsustainable (Photo: crustmania)

This week the European Parliament sent a globally important message to France to halt plans that endanger our planet's climate.

The environmental credentials president Emmanuel Macron rose to power on are already looking tattered despite his famed promise to "Make the Planet Great Again".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Emmanuel Macron came to power partly on a slogan of "Make the Planet Great Again" - a green riposte to Donald Trump (Photo: Consilium)

Following the shock departure of environment minister Nicolas Hulot, live on radio last month, and Macron's failure to prevent Total's La Mede refinery producing biofuel from imported palm oil linked to deforestation, the tone set by the president's campaign slogan is starting to sour.

And now, France's AFD development agency is poised to support the expansion of highly damaging industrial logging in the second largest rainforest in the world, across the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This, despite recent revelations from Global Witness that expanding industrial logging in DRC's rainforest could generate 35m tonnes of extra CO2 emissions per year.

That's the equivalent of another 8.7 coal-fired power plants – or all of Denmark's carbon emissions for 2014. It is a move that goes against the spirit of international climate commitments made by France – before and since Macron.

And alongside the climate damage this kind of deeply unsustainable chopping down of millennial rainforests would cause, the people of DRC living in these forests are also forgotten.

While France champions the right of free, prior and informed consent of the local communities, communities cannot choose freely when the promise of access to health and education is made entirely conditional on accepting logging operations within forests on which they are reliant for their livelihoods.

So what's the prospect of change? This week the European Parliament has made clear that European donor funds should not be used for industrial logging in intact rainforests, sending a clear message to France and other member states.

On Tuesday, MEPs voted on the EU's global forest protection policies (the Hautala report), including its approach to industrial logging of climate-critical intact forest landscapes (like the Amazon or Congo Basin).

The report calls on the commission and member states to coordinate donor policies to ensure that funds are not used to support the expansion of industrial-scale logging into intact tropical forests.

MEPs have also backed demands for the EU to adopt a new deforestation action plan and bring forward regulation to tackle forest loss linked to agricultural commodities to ensure that EU supply chains and financial transactions do not cause deforestation, forest degradation, or human rights violations.

Despite failings in other areas, to their credit, France has been championing ideas for this new action plan. All eyes are now on the European commission as we await long overdue action on this agenda.

This vote could not just mark a step change in the EU's global role in forests protection to prevent climate change – but also give president Macron and his government the opportunity to show they mean it when they say we need to protect the planet and make this the centrepiece of global environmental action.

Jo Blackman is senior campaigner at Global Witness

US steps in to clean up Cyprus

Cyprus has overlooked undertakings on bank probity made to the EU in the context of the 2013 bailout - but it might prove harder to get the US off its back.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  2. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  3. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  4. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  5. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  6. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  7. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  8. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published

Why 'Spitzenkandidat' is probably here to stay

The power of the parliament to 'appoint' the president of the EU Commission is new, highly-contested - and not universally understood. In fact, even some of the lead candidates to replace Jean-Claude Juncker are against it.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  2. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  3. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  4. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  5. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  6. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot
  7. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  8. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us