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3Keel coordinates second industry deforestation response amidst potential Environment Bill delay

15th September 2021

Today 3Keel sent a second letter to the UK government on behalf of a number of major supermarkets and food producers.

The letter (signed by Asda, the Co-op, Cranswick, Lidl Great Britain, Marks & Spencer, Sainsburys, McDonald’s UK & Ireland, Moy Park, Morrison Supermarkets, Mondelēz International, Nandos, Ocado, Tesco and Waitrose & Partners, with more expected to join the call), urges the government to consider amendments to the Environment Bill to strengthen its provisions to tackle deforestation.

Last year, the businesses wrote to Defra, warning that organisations should be mandated to disclose information if they have a historically large forest footprint, regardless of their size in terms of turnover or profits. They also pointed out that many nations and regions facing deforestation have weak domestic and international legislation. As such, only mandating companies to avoid deforestation classed as ‘illegal’ gives them a pass to continue destroying and degrading forests where domestic legislation permits them to do so.

Following the consultation last year, calls from industry and civil society in increasing their ambition to prevent deforestation have remained unheard – and since that consultation several nations have rolled back their environmental protections (Indonesia in October 2020, Brazil currently), thus legalising land that can now be cleared outside the scope of the Government’s current proposal.

WWF has estimated that the current UK proposal would leave 2.1 million hectares exposed to legal deforestation and land conversion in Brazil under their current national laws.

The latest letter comes in time for what might be the last opportunity to affect the primary legislation which can adequately address all forms of deforestation – amidst reports that the Government is considering delaying the Environment Bill for the fourth time, in the face of opposition in the House of Lords that could remedy these gaps.

“Restricting action to illegal deforestation only would not achieve halting the loss of these natural ecosystems, especially when producing country governments have discretion to decide what is legal or have inadequate enforcement mechanisms, and local land title and clearance records can be unreliable or absent.”

Excerpt from first industry response to deforestation legislation in the Environment Bill