Plans to clamp down on illegal deforestation and protect rainforests have been published by the government today as it consults on a world-leading 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, rubber, 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 proposed legislation makes clear that illegally produced commodities have no place in the UK market.
Today’s move follows the establishment of 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.”
Ruth Chambers, from the Greener UK coalition, said: “This consultation is a welcome first step in the fight to tackle the loss of our planet’s irreplaceable natural wonders such as the Amazon and in the pursuit of supply chains free from products that contribute to deforestation. The evidence linking deforestation with climate change, biodiversity loss and the spread of zoonotic diseases is compelling. A new law is an important part of the solution and is urgently needed. The proposal must now be tested thoroughly to ensure it will deliver the Government’s domestic and international environmental leadership ambitions.”