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Government announces world-leading new law to protect rainforests

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An aerial view of a gravel path next to a forest of green trees

Today (25 August) the government has announced plans to clamp down on illegal deforestation as it consults on a world-leading new law to protect rainforests and clean up the UK’s supply chains.

The move has been covered in The Guardian, BBC, The Telegraph, Financial Times,Radio 4’s Today Programme, as well as by Sky News Breakfast who interviewed International Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith.

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 to show where key commodities - for example, cocoa, rubber, soy and palm oil - come from. Businesses that fail to comply would be subject to fines.

International Environment Minister Lord 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 today 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 combatting 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.

Today’s move follows the establishment of 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.

The consultation will run for six weeks and seeks views from UK and international stakeholders.

Today’s move builds on the government’s recent commitment to double the UK’s contribution to International Climate Finance to £11.6bn from 2021-2025, including for nature-based solutions. In June, the government committed a further £16 million of funding to help scale up environmentally-friendly farming, forest conservation and replanting in the Amazon.

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  1. Comment by Suzi posted on

    How will they know the land was cleared illegally? Is there a register of such land, and what stops the growers from supplying false information anyway?