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UK Law to Curb Deforestation

UK businesses will have to show that their products and supply lines are free from illegal deforestation, under government plans.

A proposed law would require larger companies operating in the UK to show where commodities such as cocoa, soy, rubber and palm oil originated from. It would be illegal to use products that fail to comply with laws to protect nature in those origin nations.

There has been growing dissatisfaction among consumers about products that are connected to illegal deforestation, especially in the Amazon. According to a new survey from environmental group, WWF, 67% of British consumers want the government to do more to tackle the issue. Some 81% of respondents in the survey said there should be greater transparency about the origins of products that are imported into the UK.

Fuelling these concerns are reports showing that deforestation in the Amazon has increased sharply this year. The felling of trees and the clearing of land, usually for agriculture, is almost always illegal and is responsible for 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Anything that can be done to stop this is very good news for the planet and the UK government now says it wants to address this issue by introducing a law to ensure that the supply chains of larger companies and the products they sell are free from illegal deforestation.

Companies would have to ensure that commodities such as palm and soy were produced in line with local laws protecting forests and other natural ecosystems. Businesses would have to publish information showing the origins of products or face fines.

"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," said international environment minister Lord Goldsmith.

"The evidence linking deforestation with climate change, biodiversity loss and the spread of zoonotic diseases is compelling. A new law is an important part of the solution and is urgently needed," said Ruth Chambers, from the Greener UK coalition.

As the UK is hosting the UN Climate Change conference next year, let's hope that this initiative is adopted by other nations too.

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