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Examination of Witnesses

Part of Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 10th March 2020.

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Rebecca Newsom:

Absolutely—we totally agree with what you have just said. We have to think about our global impact, as well as getting things right here. There is a major problem with the UK’s global footprint at the moment. A lot of the products that we consume on the UK market often, when it is related to meat and dairy, are somehow connected, through the supply chain, to deforestation. For example, 95% of chickens slaughtered in the UK are farmed intensively in a way that means they are fed on soya, and half of Europe’s global deforestation footprint is in relation to soya. We know that it can be tracked back, but, at the moment, there is not that kind of transparency.

The way to deal with this issue is twofold: first, reduce how much meat and dairy we are consuming in the UK, because we need to be freeing up agricultural land globally to give back to nature and allow abundance to be restored. We know the Government are very keen on nature-based solutions for climate change, and a key part of the puzzle is giving land back to nature. That requires a shift in our consumption habits. A global footprint provision in the Environment Bill to allow targets for this would enable that to happen.

The other piece to the puzzle is sorting out our supply chains and putting a requirement on corporations to clean up the supply chain and conduct due diligence. That can be delivered through the amendment you tabled on enforcing the 2020 deforestation deadline; the Government have backed that previously, but it needs legal enforcement, and also the establishment of due diligence legislation in six months’ time, which would set up that framework to enable it to be delivered.