U.K. to Help Protect World’s Forests With Laws for Shops and Restaurants

The U.K. moved to stop supermarkets and restaurants from selling products linked to illegal deforestation, part of an effort to put climate-protection policies at the heart of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s agenda.

The government said the Environment Bill now before Parliament will make it illegal for businesses operating in the U.K. from selling beef, soy and other key commodities sourced from land that is protected by local laws. The measures are meant to help protect forests in places like the Amazon River basin.

“Our new due diligence law is one piece of a much bigger package of measures that we are putting in place to tackle deforestation,” said International Environment Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said in a statement in London on Wednesday.

The decision by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, appeared to dismiss a call by supermarkets and environmental organizations for the rules to be even tougher than the ones proposed.

McDonald’s Corp., Tesco Plc and Nestle SA were among 21 companies that last month urged Defra to strengthen the plans beyond local laws. They said the law needs to apply to all deforestation -- not just where it has been defined as illegal in individual countries.

Responding to the news, Jason Tarry, head of Tesco in the U.K. and Ireland, said the rules were “an important first step to creating a level playing field.”

Separately, ministers were also warned on Wednesday that they are off track to meeting their long-term environmental goals, set nine years ago.

The National Audit Office, the government’s spending watchdog, said it isn’t clear how the government will deliver on its target to be the first generation to leave the natural environment in England in a better state than it inherited.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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