Is certification the right tool to stop deforestation? A Greenpeace study released today doubts it. According to the environmental group, products linked to forest and ecosystem destruction, land disputes and human rights abuses continue to access the EU market labelled as ‘sustainable’ by many certifications schemes, according to a new investigation by Greenpeace International. Destruction: Certified assesses the performance of major certification schemes used for products like palm oil, wood and soy for animal feed, and shows that these schemes have failed to stop ecosystem destruction and human rights abuses.

Three of the schemes have been approved by the European Commission as ways to show compliance with the sustainability requirements for biofuels in the Renewable Energy Directive.

“Certification schemes push the responsibility to protect forests onto the average person in the supermarket, while encouraging them to buy more of the products that still cause destruction. But protecting forests and human rights isn’t a consumer preference like crunchy or smooth peanut butter – it’s a necessity"Sini Eräjää, of Greenpeace:   European politicians must step up to protect the planet and its people by setting rules to ensure that nothing on the EU market comes from forest and ecosystem destruction or human rights abuses” added Eräjää.

The report finds that, rather than triggering market changes that protect forests and other ecosystems, certification schemes have instead greenwashed products that are still linked to forest and ecosystem destruction. In some cases, the use of voluntary certification schemes has even hampered the adoption of more effective measures such as legislation or the reduction of consumption of products driving ecosystem destruction.

The European Commission is expected to publish a draft law before the summer, aimed at reducing the impact EU consumption has on deforestation and forest degradation. Greenpeace is calling on the EU to make sure, in that law, that companies selling in Europe show, through due diligence, that their products are free from forest and other ecosystem destruction as well as from human rights abuses. Greenpeace is telling the EU not to count on certification schemes to reduce ecosystem destruction and abuses , or to use them as means of compliance with the needed legislation.

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