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Report

Report: ENDORSING THE END OF THE AMAZON - Critical weaknesses in the UK government's proposed forest risk commodities framework

'ENDORSING THE END OF THE AMAZON: CRITICAL WEAKNESSES IN THE UK GOVERNMENT’S PROPOSED FOREST RISK COMMODITIES FRAMEWORK AND HOW TO FIX THEM', 13 September 2021

"As a major consumer of ‘forest risk commodities’ like soy, beef, palm oil, timber, pulp and paper, cocoa and rubber, the UK is partly responsible for driving deforestation around the world. An area of land almost the size of the UK itself (and growing) is used each year to produce only seven of the forest risk commodities consumed annually in the UK. The UK Government is currently proposing a new law to minimise deforestation linked to the consumption of forest risk commodities in the UK. That proposal, contained in Schedule 17 of the Environment Bill, is currently being debated before parliament.

While a step in the right direction, the Government’s proposal has several major weaknesses, particularly when considered in light of the dangerous package of legal reforms proposed by the Brazilian Government and currently before the Brazilian Congress, which aim to legalise millions of hectares of deforestation, undermine the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and would likely spell the end of the Amazon rainforest. If those 2 reforms are adopted, they would render the new UK law effectively meaningless in terms of addressing deforestation in Brazil. It is therefore crucial that the UK Government’s proposal is strengthened to:

i. establish a UK deforestation standard that covers all deforestation, regardless of treatment under local laws, that applies to all forest risk commodities and derived products, regardless of their origin;

ii. include a requirement that UK operators must ensure that the forest risk commodities they use have not been produced in violation of the right of Indigenous Peoples or other affected communities to free, prior and informed consent (“FPIC”); and

iii. include cattle (as well as derived products like beef and leather) and soy, as well as non-agricultural commodities like mining, oil and gas products that are also highly associated with deforestation, as “forest risk commodities”.

This brief examines the legislative proposals in Brazil and considers how these reforms, if enacted, would be treated under the UK Government’s proposed forest risk commodity framework. In doing so, we identify several major weaknesses in the Government’s proposal and outline how Schedule 17 should be improved to correct them..."

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