The UK Government has put forward new measures in the Environment Bill to clamp down on illegal deforestation in supply chains and protect rainforests.
The proposed new law 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.
Businesses will also need to be more transparent about where they source key commodities from, and businesses that fail to comply will be subject to fines, with the precise level to be set at a later date through secondary legislation.
The announcement comes as the Government publishes its response to the recommendations from the independent Global Resource Initiative (GRI) Taskforce. The GRI Taskforce has considered ways in which the production, trade and consumption of commodity agricultural and forestry products needs to change to ensure it is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.
International Environment Minister, Lord Goldsmith, said:
In every conceivable way we depend on the natural world around us. Rainforests cool the planet, provide clean air and water, and are a haven for some of the most endangered species on Earth – and so protecting them must be a core priority.
Our new due diligence law is one piece of a much bigger package of measures that we are putting in place to tackle deforestation. Our intent is not just to take world-leading domestic measures, but to build a global alliance of countries committed to working together to protect the world’s precious forests…
The Environment Bill is currently at Committee Stage in the House of Commons, having returned to Parliament this month following a delay.