Amazon Deforestation — [Mrs Madeleine Moon in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:47 pm on 7th October 2019.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Transport) 5:47 pm, 7th October 2019

I thank my hon. Friend for raising the role of CITES and the UN. I shall highlight some other ways in which I believe we could bring pressure to bear in order to protect this habitat. The fact that goods can be traded, and across the agricultural sector as well, means that we have a serious problem. When we start seeing the label “Brazil”, we have to be able to make inquiries as to where things have been sourced. The same applies to places elsewhere in the world. When I was a shadow Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minister, I was looking at the labelling that we have on all our products, because the right labelling is essential. Our inquiring minds should not have to go and research everything that we purchase; we should be able easily to access data to understand the source. We might make different consumption choices if that were the case.

This is not just another problem in another country on a far-off continent; this is where 15% of global terrestrial photosynthesis takes place. We think of the rainforest as the lungs of our planet, sequestering carbon and driving climate, precipitation and weather systems. Our battle with climate deterioration is caught up in the Amazon story. Events that happen in the UK are the result of what is happening across the Amazon, so our actions at this time really matter. Whether in the Amazon, Borneo and Indonesia, west Africa or the US, the pace of deforestation is alarming, and actions to respond to that will provide real resistance to climate degradation.

COP 24 was a hopeful moment. However, we are all realistic enough to know that unless we see global action taken, the Paris accord will be futile. I do not belittle the agreements, such as the tropical forest alliance, to which the UK is a signatory, and I urge the Government to use greater influence within these alliances for global action. Nor do I belittle the drops of money that we have placed in the ocean needed to tackle the global climate catastrophe. But it is clear that the political and financial relationships of the UK and global partners also have a significant role to play.

As the UK this summer launched a new trade facilitation programme with Brazil to support exports to the UK, I ask the Minister how that has specifically brought pressure to bear on Mr Bolsonaro to change his approach. What efforts are being made in the City and, no doubt, UK pension funds and investments to withdraw from companies exploiting the Amazon region? Where is the market transparency? Where are we seriously lessening the demand for products, ranging from minerals to meat, to take away the case for destroying our rainforests?