The UK government has been implored, once again, to step up plans to remove deforestation from international supply chains, with MPs arguing for a crackdown on deforestation considered legal abroad.
MEPs are also calling for tougher measures to prevent UK-based finance companies from investing in companies and other organizations with proven links to deforestation. Some of the world’s largest banks have been linked to industries causing massive deforestation and biodiversity loss, with some in the financial sector providing loans and subscriptions worth over 2.6 billion dollars in climate destruction initiatives.
Calls to action are launched by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) in a new report on the UK’s impact on biodiversity globally. Released today (September 30), the report commends the UK for its commitment to protect 30% of habitats nationwide, but warns that the nation must take full responsibility for its global biodiversity footprint if its plans to face climatic and natural crises must be considered credible.
The overall recommendation of the report is that the government develop a legally binding environmental footprint target, with time-bound numerical targets to reduce its total material consumption and impact on biodiversity globally.
The Green Alliance think tank urged the government to consider committing to halving resource consumption by 2050, as the UK uses natural resources at more than twice the rate considered sustainable . Likewise, the Fairtrade Foundation has stated that around 46% of UK consumption-related emissions are generated overseas.
The EAC also made several recommendations that could possibly be implemented before this overall goal is finalized. He joins NGOs such as Global Witness and WWF, and large corporations such as Nestlé and Nando’s, in calling for measures in the Environment Bill to end deforestation in multinational supply chains to be strengthened. .
Currently, the bill is designed to ban UK-based companies from importing suppliers who deforest abroad. All large UK-based companies will need to prove that the ‘forest risk’ products they source internationally come from suppliers without deforestation – or explain why they are unable to do so. Defra classifies soybeans, palm oil, cocoa, beef, leather, rubber, and forest products such as wood and paper as “forest risk” products.
The caveats are that only deforestation deemed illegal in the country of origin is covered, and the requirement will not apply to the financial sector. The EAC reports that, during consultations on the bill, 90% of those polled were in favor of stronger and more extensive measures to tackle deforestation. In addition, Forestry Minister Lord Goldsmith himself has declared that only 50% of the deforestation that occurs in the world each year is classified as illegal.
“To increase the sustainable use of forest-risk raw materials, we recommend that the government ban UK businesses and the financial sector from using raw materials linked to deforestation and, at the very least, include the industry. financial within the scope of the provisions on forest products at risk in the draft law on the environment ”, indicates the EAC report.
The report also calls on the government to ensure that all forest-risk products it purchases are certified as sustainable by the end of the year and calls for the completion of sustainability impact assessments for all future trade agreements.
Many NGOs and the government’s Trade and Agriculture Commission have recommended that basic environmental standards be developed for all trade agreements. In the absence of these standards, or a requirement for sustainability impact assessments, the UK has entered into or contemplated agreements that have been widely criticized across the green economy, including the recent agreement with Australia.
“We have a unique opportunity with the new trade agreements to incorporate strict standards for the environment, among other issues, which should be urgently addressed,” summed up EAC President Philip Dunne MP.
The report precedes the official opening of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which will take place online from October 11 to 15. This event will include high-level segment discussions that will aim to produce a “Kunming Declaration” on a global biodiversity agreement. The declaration will be ratified after face-to-face negotiations, which were postponed to spring 2022 due to Covid-19.
A preliminary version of the Declaration has already been published by the UN. The overall objective is to protect at least 30% of terrestrial and marine habitats by 2030, when the loss of biodiversity must be halted.
Nations have collectively failed to meet the UN’s pre-2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
“The conclusions of our committee are clear: we need to bring consumption to a sustainable level where our cherished wildlife, animals and nature are threatened,” said Dunne.
“Although this problem is bigger than anyone’s habits, if we all take action to tackle unsustainable consumption, we can have a lasting impact in stopping the loss of biodiversity.
“This government can really show leadership on these issues ahead of COP26 and the COP on biodiversity next year: I hope it will rise to the challenge.