Assemblymember Ash Kalra Introduces Bill to Make California a Leader in Protecting Tropical Forests

Thursday, February 14, 2019

If passed, AB 572 would mandate state contracts involving forest-risk commodities only go to companies with sustainable practices

SACRAMENTO – Given the ever-present and increasing threat climate change poses to all Californians, and the role tropical deforestation plays in escalating that threat, Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), along with Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), and Assemblymember Eloise Reyes (D-San Bernardino), and accompanied by co-sponsors Social Compassion in Legislation and Friends of the Earth, today announced the introduction of AB 572, the California Deforestation-Free Procurement Act. If passed, all California state contracts involving forest-risk commodities, such as palm oil, soy, cattle, rubber, paper/pulp, and timber, would require their suppliers to have a No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE) policy.

By adopting a NDPE policy, all contractors doing business with the State of California would, at a minimum, ensure no deforestation of primary forests, areas of High Conservation Value (HCV), High Carbon Stock forest areas, or peatlands regardless of depth; a progressive reduction of emissions on existing plantations; respect for Indigenous Peoples’ rights to give or withhold Free, Prior and Informed Consent for plantation operations on their customary lands; and protection of biodiversity and prevention of poaching of endangered species in all operations. Norway and France recently committed to implementing similar policies, but as of today, no US jurisdictions have such a requirement.

“The fact is, even though there are no tropical rain forests in California, our purchases contribute to their destruction, and we must take a stand to stop that,” said Assemblymember Kalra. “A policy requiring an NDPE policy works to make our purchases more ethical, and our planet healthier.”

Tropical forests cover roughly seven percent of the Earth’s surface but harbor close to 50 percent of all species on Earth; an estimated 18 million acres of forest, an area 1/5 the size of California, is lost every year due to human activities. Tropical deforestation is responsible for an estimated one-third of global CO2 emissions.

“We must take a stand to stop the destruction of tropical forests before there are no tropical forests left,” added Judie Mancuso, CEO and Founder of Social Compassion in Legislation. “AB 572 builds a framework to reward companies that are doing the right thing by giving them exclusive access to do business with the state of California and puts necessary pressure on others to do the same.”

“Tropical forests harbor unimaginable biodiversity; they’ve harbored and been stewarded by Indigenous Peoples for millennia – and they are essential for stabilizing the global climate. The rapid loss of these forests is a crisis of epic proportions. Now, California has the opportunity to use its purchasing power to tackle the root causes of forest destruction. This will be a precedent-setting policy with truly global implications,” stated Jeff Conant, Senior International Forests Program Manager of Friends of the Earth.

AB 572, which is also supported by Amazon Watch, California Environmental Justice Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Investigation Agency, Global Witness, Greenpeace USA, Peace 4 Animals, and Rainforest Action Network, sends the signal that deforestation is not only a problem for the people where deforestation takes place, but that it is an issue the entire world must address.