It's Earth Day, and it's time we realise that our actions in the UK can affect the forests on the other side of the world. Many of us do not know it, but British shoppers could be contributing to the destruction of these forests without even realising it. That's why we need to take urgent action to prevent this from happening.
In 2021, I supported a law that would stop large companies from using commodities grown on illegally deforested land. The Government has been considering action on eight critical commodities: beef, cocoa, coffee, leather, maize, palm oil, rubber, and soy. However, we're still waiting for the final decision on which actions will be taken and which commodities will be included. To make sure the stuff we buy is deforestation-free, we must include all eight commodities in the government's action plan.
Another thing that worries me is our energy supply chains. Some of our power comes from burning wood pellets called biomass energy. But Ofgem, the energy regulator, is looking into claims of greenwashing regarding the sustainability of some biomass projects because of their potential links to deforestation. We need to make sure that companies supplying these pellets follow the rules and that our sustainability requirements for this energy source are as sustainable as possible.
We should also look into the indirect ways we contribute to deforestation. Our government has already made the UK a global leader in green finance, and we're committed to making the UK the first net-zero financial centre. But we need to ensure that we protect nature within our financial system by asking banks to prove that they don't profit from illegal deforestation.
The Government is already taking steps to protect the world's forests, but we can't stop there. I'm calling for some ambitious action to make sure our banks, bills, and baskets are deforestation-free. It's a lot of work to end global deforestation, but we can make a big difference by taking action now.