California Assembly passes bill requiring deforestation-free supply chains

As deforestation continues to worsen and causes climate change to become more uncontrollable, the California state assembly voted to do something about it this week by passing legislation requiring deforestation-free supply chains.

Every year, the world’s rainforests disappear a little more, robbing us of trees that provide oxygen and reduce carbon dioxide, help in the development and production of medicines and harbor the lion’s share of the world’s animal species.

In just 2018, deforestation claimed an acreage of rainforest bigger than the state of Maryland, with 3.2 million acres of forest being wiped out in South America alone.

The lungs of our planet are in danger of being lost, and the urgency to prevent further loss has prompted the California state assembly to pass a new law.

According to Friends of the Earth:

The California Deforestation-Free Procurement Act, AB572, would require all companies contracting with California in the provision of products potentially linked to tropical forest destruction to demonstrate “deforestation-free” supply chains. The primary products affected will be those derived from “forest-risk commodities” including palm oil, soy, cattle, rubber, paper/pulp, and timber.

The bill now heads to the state Senate, and would head to Governor Gavin Newsom’s office if it gets the votes. Passage of the bill could inspire other states to do the same and would be an important step to reversing the devastation of our forests.

“We can’t say we’re a pro-environment state if we contribute to rainforest destruction around the world,” Assembly member Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) said. “California must have no part in purchasing commodities and products that contribute to deforestation, and I want to thank my colleagues for standing with me to protect these fragile ecosystems and the indigenous communities and animals that live in them.”

Indeed, rainforests are a haven for many different species of all different sizes. They all play a role in the ecosystem. Sadly, most of them are also on the list of one million species that are at risk of extinction due to climate change, which is only exacerbated by deforestation.

“As the fifth largest economy in the world, California has a responsibility to reduce our global footprint,” Jeff Conant, Senior International Forests Program Manager for Friends of the Earth, said. “The loss of tropical forests is an immense and growing problem that we must address urgently if we want to stop the worst of the climate crisis. We are extremely grateful to the state Assembly for supporting a precedent-setting policy with truly global implications.”

If other nations want to sell products to California, they’ll have to make policy changes to comply with California law. If not, they’ll lose business and California will go elsewhere for the products they wish to buy.

At a time when many governments are either slow-footing their way toward change or ignoring environmental problems altogether, California is now a lone shining ray of hope that more change is on the way at a faster and more serious pace. Deforestation is not only killing trees, it’s killing us as well, and the only way to stop it is to pass new laws and change the way we live.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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