UK reviewing new law to protect rainforests and clean up supply chains
The legislation would make it illegal for larger businesses to use products unless they comply with local laws to protect natural areas.
Plans to clamp down on illegal deforestation and protect rainforests have been published by the British Government as it consults on a new law to clean up the UK’s supply chains.
The proposals would prohibit larger businesses operating in the UK from using products grown on land that was deforested illegally. These businesses would be required to carry out due diligence on their supply chains by publishing information to show where key commodities – for example, cocoa, soy and palm oil – came from and that they were produced in line with local laws protecting forests and other natural ecosystems.
Businesses that fail to comply would be subject to fines, with the precise level to be set at a later date.
The approach is designed to work in tandem with the existing efforts of Governments, communities and business in producer countries to enforce national laws, benefiting law-abiding producers and companies.
International Environment Minister, Lord Zac Goldsmith, said: “We have all seen the devastating pictures of the world’s most precious forests being cleared, often illegally, and we can’t afford not to act as a country. There is a hugely important connection between the products we buy and their wider environmental footprint, which is why the Government is consulting on new measures that would make it illegal for businesses in the UK to use commodities that are not grown in accordance with local laws.
“Ahead of hosting the UN Climate Change Conference next year, the UK has a duty to lead the way in combating the biodiversity and nature crisis now upon us.
“There has been a lot of progress already to make the UK’s supply chains more sustainable, but more needs to be done. We will continue to work closely with farmers, business and Governments around the world to ensure that we can protect our vital forests and support livelihoods as we build back greener from coronavirus.”
The move follows the establishment of the Government’s independent taskforce – the Global Resource Initiative (GRI) – formed in 2019 to consider how the UK could ‘green’ international supply chains and leave a lighter footprint on the global environment by slowing the loss of forests.
Sir Ian Cheshire, the chair of the independent taskforce, said: “Every day, British consumers buy food and other products which are contributing to the loss of the world’s most precious forests.
“We need to find ways of reducing this impact if we are to tackle climate change, reduce the risks of pandemics and protect the livelihoods of some of the poorest people in the world.
“I’m delighted to see the Government respond to one of the key recommendations of the Global Resource Initiative. Starting a discussion on how changes in UK law could help us all to reduce our global footprint. I would encourage as many people as possible to respond to this important consultation.”