Legislation will make it illegal for larger businesses to use products unless they comply with local laws to protect natural areas.
The UK will go further than ever before to clamp down on illegal deforestation and protect rainforests, the government has confirmed today, thanks to world-leading new laws being introduced through the landmark Environment Bill (11 November).
The move coincides with the publication of a new report setting out government’s approach to tackling deforestation linked to UK demand for products such as cocoa, rubber, soya, and palm oil. The report responds to the recommendations from the independent Global Resource Initiative Taskforce, which consulted over 200 leading businesses and organizations.
Combined, the package of measures will ensure that greater resilience, traceability and sustainability are built into the UK’s supply chains by working in partnership with other countries and supporting farmers to transition to more sustainable food and land use systems.
There were more than 60,000 responses to the government’s consultation, with 99% in favour of legislating on this critical issue.
One of the leading new measures is the introduction of a new law in the Environment Bill which will require greater due diligence from businesses, and make it illegal for UK businesses to use key commodities if they have not been produced in line with local laws protecting forests and other natural ecosystems.
80% of deforestation is linked to the expansion of agriculture, with land being cleared to make way for grazing animals and to grow crops. The UK imports over half of the food it consumes, and while in global terms the UK is a relatively small consumer of forest risk commodities such as cocoa, rubber, soya, and palm oil, we are leaving an ever-larger footprint on the world’s forests.
The Environment Bill, the UK’s landmark legislation to transform the environment, returned to Parliament on Tuesday 3 November. The Bill sets out a world-leading vision to allow the environment to prosper for future generations and ensure that the UK maintain and enhances world-leading environmental protections policies.
Today’s report also details the Government’s wider package of measures to support countries and companies looking to reduce commodity drive deforestation, including through future trade policies, public procurement, and the development of a sustainable Food Service Sector Action Plan. Igniting change in the financial sector also features heavily in the government’s approach, including scaling up investment in sustainable land-use.
Alongside the domestic measures set out in today’s report, the UK Government will capitalise on its forthcoming presidency of the UN Climate Change summit next year in Glasgow to accelerate a global transition to more sustainable supply chains by bringing together producer and consumer countries of forest risk commodities to share perspectives and take action.
Today’s announcement sets the tone for the ambitions of COP26 whilst driving forward a transition to sustainable patterns of production and consumption, a key commitment in the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, signed at the UN General Assembly in September this year.