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SACRAMENTO – Jan. 28, 2020 – Following last year’s devastating fires in the Amazon and other rainforests around the world, Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), along with Senator Ben Allen, Assemblymembers Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), and Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-Grand Terrace), and accompanied by co-sponsors Friends of the Earth, Peace 4 Animals, and Social Compassion in Legislation, today announced the introduction of AB 2002, the California Deforestation-Free Procurement Act.

“By introducing this bill, we’re giving California the opportunity to take real leadership in the fight against rainforest destruction by making our purchases – and our global impact – more transparent, more sustainable and more ethical,” said Assemblymember Kalra.  “With our tropical forests increasingly at risk of fires like the ones we witnessed in 2019, we can no longer afford to ignore the global deforestation crisis. AB 2002 asserts our California values and extends environmental leadership to the protection of tropical forests, sending a powerful signal to global markets that illegal and destructive commodity-driven deforestation will no longer be tolerated.”

If passed, all California state contracts involving tropical forest-risk commodities, such as palm oil, soy, cattle, rubber, paper/pulp and timber, would require contractors to maintain a No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE) policy, and provide evidence that their operations are not linked to rainforest destruction or abuses of indigenous peoples’ rights.

The world’s rainforests are in crisis. Environmental advocates and industry leaders alike agree that there is increasing recognition that such policies are the best way to prevent ongoing forest destruction. A version of the bill introduced in 2019 achieved strong bi-partisan support but failed to pass the Senate Appropriations Committee

Tropical forests cover roughly seven percent of the Earth’s surface but harbor close to half of all species on Earth. An estimated 18 million acres of forest—an area one-fifth the size of California—is lost every year, largely due to the expansion of agribusiness plantations. Tropical deforestation and related land-use changes is responsible for nearly a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions, and is a major contributor to the global biodiversity crisis.

“We must take a stand to stop the destruction of tropical forests before there are no tropical forests or animals that depend on them left,” added Judie Mancuso, CEO and Founder of Social Compassion in Legislation. “AB 2002 builds a framework to reward companies that are doing the right thing by giving them exclusive assess to do business with the state of California and puts necessary pressure on others to do the same.”

“Tropical forests are home to the world’s greatest biodiversity; they’ve harbored and been stewarded by Indigenous Peoples since time immemorial – and they are essential for stabilizing the global climate. The rapid loss of these forests to agribusiness and overconsumption 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, Friends of the Earth

“I have seen firsthand the heartbreaking effects of tropical deforestation,” said Katie Cleary, Founder and President of Peace 4 Animals. “We will lose our orangutans, tigers, and countless other species if we do not take meaningful steps to end tropical deforestation.”

AB 2002, has broad support from many organizations committed to defending tropical rainforests, including: the Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace, Amazon Watch, Asia Pacific Environmental Network, BioFuel Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Investigation Agency, Filipina Alliance for Environmental Justice, Idle No More SF Bay, Indigenous Environmental Network, Mighty Earth, Movement Rights California, Nature Conservancy, Oxfam America, Rainforest Action Network, Stand.Earth, and Union of Concerned Scientists.