New UK laws to be enforced to stop deforestation in supply chains

New UK laws aim to clamp down on deforestation around the world and will require businesses to show that their products and supply lines are not connected to rainforests cleared illegally.

The proposed law would require any firms operating in the UK to show where commodities, such as rubber, cocoa, soy and palm oil, came from.

Companies that fail to show the origin of their products and where there were produced in line with local laws protecting forests, will be subject to fines.

No fines have been set but the government has said it will aim to make it clear that illegally produced goods “have no place in the UK market".

International environment minister Lord Goldsmith said: "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."

Goldsmith added: "Ahead of hosting the UN climate change conference next year, the UK has a duty to lead the way in combating the biodiversity and nature crisis now upon us."

According to a new survey from environmental group, WWF, 67% of British consumers want the government to do more to tackle the issue.

Greenpeace has described the government’s plans as “seriously flawed”, as the legislation would allow firms to continue to sell products into the UK if they met the rules, but would mean UK consumers would still be supporting deforestation if the companies sold products to other markets using land connected to illegal destruction of rainforests.

Meanwhile, the IPCC has said that, deforestation accounts for 11 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while the world’s rainforests are vital for drawing CO2 out of the atmosphere and storing it.

The vast majority of deforestation - estimated by the UK government to be around 80 per cent - is caused by the production of agricultural commodities, and up to 90 per cent of deforestation is illegal.