Five French ministries proposed 17 measures on 14 November to tackle deforestation caused by importing non-sustainable forest or agricultural products, which may include palm oil, Reuters reports.

The five ministries said that from 1990 to 2015, the world’s forest area fell by 129M ha, which had led to “an 11% increase in greenhouse gas emissions and significant consequences in terms of preserving biodiversity and natural habitats”.

"European countries bear an important responsibility, since a third of this deforestation is due to the consumption of agricultural products by the countries of the European Union," their joint statement added.

The new measures include providing financial aid for developing countries to promote respect for non-deforestation criteria, launching a “zero deforestation” label for consumers by 2020 and pushing a European policy on imports posing a risk for forests next year.

The Reuters report said the EU and companies had made many pledges to halt deforestation but had made slow progress tackling the issue.

Earlier this month, France joined six other EU countries to demand that the European Commission formulate an action plan by the end of the year to tackle global deforestation.

As part of the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII) adopted on 13 November, France is following the EU’s target to phase out the use of biofuels containing feedstocks that cause deforestation by 2030.

France is allowing a limited use of palm oil at Total’s planned La Mede biofuel refinery, a controversial move which has caused an outcry among French rapeseed farmers who say that cheap palm oil feedstock would lead to unfair competition.

Total was granted a license on 16 May to use palm oil at La Mede, provided that at least 25% of its feedstock would be recycled oils. The French oil and gas giant has pledged to buy 50,000 tonnes/year of French rapeseed oil for the refinery.