Government 'failing on illegal logging pledge' - Caroline Lucas
A note from the editor: Ms. Lucas is still continuing her misleading campaign... Why? Read here...
Green MP Caroline Lucas today accused the Government of failing to take action to tackle the problem of illegal logging.
Ms Lucas said the coalition's pledge to bring in measures to make the import or possession of illegally logged timber a criminal offence had been the first of its green promises to collapse.
She said tackling illegal logging was key to addressing carbon emissions from deforestation, threats to local communities in developing countries who rely on forests for their livelihood and environmental damage.
Under EU law, only the person who first places illegally logged timber on the European market can be prosecuted, and not people or companies further down the supply chain, she said.
A Private Members Bill brought by Ms Lucas would make it illegal in the UK for a person or company to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire or purchase timber or wood products which have been illegally taken, harvested, transported, sold or exported from their country of origin.
"The commitment in the coalition agreement to bring in 'measures to make the import or possession of illegal timber a criminal offence' was the first of the Government's green pledges to collapse," she said.
"Despite this key pledge - and promises last year by William Hague that a Tory government would pass legislation on illegally logged timber - ministers have refused to take action.
"The ongoing problems of illegal logging and deforestation pose a great threat to the livelihoods of indigenous people, and contribute significantly to climate change and environmental degradation.
"The timber industry has shown support for efforts to tackle the issue, so now the UK Government must step up with strong policy commitments to support it."
Ms Lucas said her Bill, which is due to get its second reading in Parliament tomorrow, aimed to use UK law to fill in the gaps where EU rules were too weak, in order to take illegally-logged timber off the market for good.
A spokesman for the Environment Department (Defra) said: "The Government believes that the best way to tackle the global problem of illegal logging is through coordinated action at the European level.
"We are confident that robust implementation of the EU Illegal Timber Regulation will eradicate illegal timber from the UK market.
"We have always said that we reserve the right to legislate domestically if it becomes clear that the Regulation hasn't achieved this."