Britain should stop importing from countries which allow deforestation in the production of commodities, Lord Goldsmith has said.
The international environment minister made his remarks on Wednesday at a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) video conference, which was focused on discussing a green recovery after the coronavirus pandemic.
He warned the products people buy in Britain could have been derived from deforestation in ecologically sensitive areas such as the Amazon rainforest, and vowed to “clean up” the supply chain so British imports do not result in a loss of biodiversity.
The minister said that deforestation leads to the loss of “30 football pitches worth of forests” every minute.
WWF researchers highlighted crops, such as soy, that put the rainforests in danger because of deforestation in the Amazon basin.
Lord Goldsmith said: “We depend all of us completely on the world around us, and yet their [the trees of the rainforests] value barely registers, the Amazon today is worth more dead than it is alive, and the financial incentives to strip it outweigh it by 40 to one.”
The Government is currently reviewing which imported products are obtained as a result of deforestation and will publish the results later this year.
Lord Goldsmith told the Daily Telegraph: “There is a hugely important connection between the products we buy and their wider environmental footprint, which is why we are working hard to tackle deforestation and protect wildlife both at home and overseas.
“A lot of progress has already been made to make the UK’s supply chains more sustainable, but we know that more needs to be done. We are looking closely at Global Resource Initiative’s recent independent report – which we commissioned, for what further steps we can take to reduce the UK’s environmental footprint overseas, and will set out our formal response later this year.”
Prince William also spoke in a webinar on Wednesday about the need for an environmentally conscious response to the coronavirus crisis.
The Duke of Cambridge joined a virtual meeting of the United for Wildlife Taskforce and highlighted the urgent need to prevent future zoonotic-disease pandemics.
He said: "It is important that we learn the lessons from this pandemic, including looking at why the outbreak happened, why it was not stopped earlier, and what can be done to manage any outbreak in the future."