The UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural has published plans that would make it illegal for “larger businesses” to source products that have been obtained from natural areas that have been deforested illegally.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), deforestation accounts for 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The IPCC says that 80% of deforestation is caused by the production of agricultural commodities, with 90% of deforestation instances in some countries being illegal.
Sir Ian Cheshire, the Chair of the Global Resource Initiative (GRI), an independent taskforce which was formed in 2019, said:
“Every day, British consumers buy food and other products which are contributing to the loss of the world’s most precious forests.”
These new plans would require businesses to carry out due diligence throughout their supply chains by publishing information to show where key commodities such as cocoa, rubber, soy and palm oil came from and that they were produced in line with local laws protecting forests and other natural ecosystems.
The plan intends to impose fines on businesses which fail to comply with these rules, with the scale of these fines to be published at a later date.
The International Environment Minister, Lord Goldsmith said:
“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.”
This statement echoes that of the Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom, who has been accused of covering up three cholera epidemics in Ethiopia, which he has denied, who said on the 21st of August:
“The pandemic has given new impetus to the need to accelerate efforts to respond to climate change… Building back better means building back greener.”
During this year’s World Environment Day, on the 5th of June, the Gibraltar Ministry of the Environment said:
“The emergence of COVID19 has highlighted the risks associated with the over exploitation of the natural world… it has seen forests cut down, species made extinct and natural habitats destroyed.”
There will be a six-week consultation period on the proposed legislation which will seek out the views from the UK and international stakeholders.