A host of major food producers including Nandos and McDonalds UK, and UK supermarket chains such as Asda and Lidl have submitted a letter to the government calling for stronger action in curbing deforestation, urging them to update the Environment Bill in service of this. The letter, which was submitted yesterday (15 September) is not the first attempt by such businesses to sway the government into more ambitious climate action, with a previous letter submitted in October 2020.
In the letter, the signers say the Bill falls short in that it only addresses deforestation ‘defined as illegal under local laws’, and calling for a total moratorium on the activity.
“We are happy to see the Bill progress,” the letter states, “however, as currently drafted it only addresses deforestation defined as illegal under local laws and as we said in our 2020 letter, ‘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’.”
Several requests are laid out in the letter, such as calling for the provision of adequate protection for vulnerable communities in the major timber-related producing countries. In addition, the chains recommend sector-specific requirements, restoration and remediation efforts and altering the definition of ‘deforestation-free’ to more appropriately meet net-zero targets.
“As we approach COP26, we hope we can take this important step towards developing a world-leading regime that can deliver on our joint ambition to end all forms of deforestation,” the groups add.
In addition to the aforementioned companies, the letter has been signed by the Co-op, Cranswick, Marks & Spencer, Sainsburys, and Morrison Supermarkets – among others. More companies are anticipated to join the call.
The UK’s Environment Bill 2021 was introduced as part of the country’s 25 Year Environment Plan and is currently at the report stage in the House of Lords.