The UK is set to introduce globally-ambitious laws requiring companies to prove their products are not driving illegal deforestation in other countries.
The new legislation comes off the back of research published earlier this year by the RSPB and WWF, which revealed a massive 15% growth in the UK’s land footprint overseas compared to 2011–2015.
Riskier Business Report
The research showed how the overseas production of just seven commodities required an area equal to 88% of the UK’s total landmass, endangered thousands of globally-threatened species, and dramatically increased the UK’s carbon footprint. These products are: cocoa, palm oil, beef and leather, soy, timber, pulp and paper, and rubber.
Beccy Speight, the RSPB’s chief executive said: “Ahead of the UK hosting the crucial climate talks in 2021, the announcement is an important step in recognising that spending power can protect wildlife. Earlier this year the Riskier Business Report revealed that to create just seven imported commodities, the UK needs an area of land almost as big as the UK itself. The report also highlighted that everyday products such as soap, chocolate and biscuits are contributing to deforestation and habitat destruction.
“Introducing a Due Diligence Obligation into law will begin to answer consumer demands for businesses to acknowledge their environmental responsibilities throughout their supply chains. This is also an opportunity for the Government to make a bold statement ahead of making important trade deals and working with the international community to tackle the climate and nature crises.”
Under the new laws, major companies, such as supermarkets and high street chains, will be required to prove their products are not produced on illegally deforested land, or face fines. When enacted, the UK will be one of the first countries in the world to establish legislation requiring a common, minimum standard of compliance for products that threaten forests.
But, it's not a done deal, and we are calling on public and business support to further secure these vital laws.
The power of protest
This new policy will have global ramifications, but it would not have happened without momentum for change here in the UK. The RSPB can only carry out valuable, science-led research, such as the Riskier Business Report, because of our members. This success is a demonstration of what can be achieved when we work together, so please help us to keep up the fight for nature.