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25 August 2020

Press Release


For immediate release

Office: 01483 412383

Out of hours: 07500 577620

Email: press@wwf.org.uk

Two-thirds of UK public say government should do more to tackle Amazon destruction

New WWF findings come as fires tear through Amazon rainforest. 

Halting deforestation is a key concern for the UK public – and 67% believe the government should be doing more to tackle destruction in the Amazon, according to a UK-wide survey conducted by WWF.  

Additionally, 81% of people said there should be greater transparency of the origin of the products we import into the UK and almost three-quarters (73%) said the UK should stop trading with countries that fail to protect the natural environment.

This news comes as more than 20,000 fires were detected in the Amazon in August this year – following an increase in deforestation alerts of 33% since last year. Deforestation and fires have a devastating impact on people and species that call the Amazon home. It shelters 10% of all the wildlife species we know about, as well as 3 million indigenous people from 350 indigenous groups. Evidence strongly suggests that we are heading towards a tipping point in large parts of the Amazon which could happen even more quickly with increasing temperatures and continued deforesting. Indeed, some Amazon experts believe this tipping point could be reached with as little as 5% further loss of forest. 

WWF’s survey also shows shoppers are willing to change what they buy to make a difference, with 74% saying they are more likely to buy products which aren’t destroying the Amazon and more than half (57%) saying they would change their supermarket if a competitor could prove it was doing more to fight deforestation. 

Mike Barrett, Executive Director of Science and Conservation at WWF said: “Our precious Amazon rainforest is on fire right now due to rampant deforestation and the UK public are telling us they want urgent action. We need tough new laws to cut deforestation out of supply chains - a world-leading Environment Bill would stop the UK importing habitat destruction so shoppers can be confident in the products they buy.” 

ENDS 

NOTES TO EDITORS 

  • More than a third of people (34%) surveyed in July said halting deforestation was one of the global environmental issues they were most concerned about. 
  • [Nationally representative survey of 1,384 people aged 16+ in the UK. Interviews were conducted online by Dynata from 3rd-31st July 2020. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. 
  • Respondents were asked: How strongly do you personally agree or disagree with the statements below? 
  • There should be greater transparency of the origin of the products we import into the UK 
  • I am more likely to buy products I know aren’t destroying the environment 
  • The UK should stop trading with countries that fail to protect the natural environment 
  • The UK government should be doing more to tackle the destruction of the Amazon 
  • I would change my supermarket if I knew a competitor could they were doing more to fight deforestation 

Background 

WWF is calling for a new chapter in the Environment Bill, which addresses our nation’s ‘global footprint’ - the impact the things we consume here at home has on the environment overseas.  

The new Global Footprint chapter would include: 

  • A full ‘Due Diligence’ regulation 
  • Legal underpinning to ensure deforestation is out of our supply chains by the end of 2020 
  • Deforestation targets 
  • Global footprint targets 

The ambitious ‘Due Diligence’ regulation would require UK companies to guarantee their activities and supply chains are not wrecking the planet, such as through deforestation or pollution. Business would need to assess all goods they’re importing to ensure there are no negative impacts on people or wildlife, helping to level the playing field in corporate environmental responsibility.   

WWF is also calling on the Government to set legally binding targets for the removal of deforestation in our supply chains, as well as targets for the reduction of our global footprint.