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State bill seeks transparency in supply chain to cut deforestation

An ornate light hangs in the a tiled building hallway that leads to a room behind large glass panels.
Kenneth C. Zirkel
Wikimedia Commons
The interior of the New York State Capitol building features arches and columns.

New York's State Legislature is considering a bill to ensure that companies contracting with the state don't contribute to tropical deforestation.

The Tropical Deforestation-Free Procurement Act, co-sponsored by Central New York's Democratic state Sen. Rachel May, holds companies contracting with New York State accountable for any deforestation they might take part in, whether that's through how their product is made or through their supply chain.

A study from the University of Cambridge finds 94 companies have adopted zero-deforestation commitments, although most are not put into practice.

Marcus Sibley, director of conservation partnerships for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut for the National Wildlife Federation, said New York has worked hard to fight climate change, and this bill is a new weapon in that fight.

"We're saying now, we've already taken one major step," Sibley said. "The next major step is to pay attention to how our actions are impacting abroad as well as domestically."

A previous version of this bill was introduced, but faced opposition to language referring to boreal forests.

The bill also creates the supply-chain transparency assistance program to aid small and medium-sized businesses as well as minority- and women-owned businesses to utilize compliant supply chains.

The bill is under review by the Procurement and Contracts Committee.

One of the long-term effects this bill's passage could have is reducing the superstorms afflicting New York. In recent years, storms have gathered power, causing billions of dollars in damage.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the 60 major weather events between 2020 and 2022 cost more than $430 Billion.

Sibley said despite steps being taken to combat climate change, New York is still in harm's way.

"New Yorkers are still in harm's way of daily heat waves, life-threatening storms and severe economic climate impacts," Sibley said. "This is why the impacts of climate change, they don't respect our artificial state and national boundaries."

Outside of this bill, Sibley noted that New Yorkers can take their own steps to take a stand against tropical deforestation by checking where certain products come from. This is becoming a more important issue as 72% of shoppers say transparency is important to them with in-store and online shopping, according to a report from the Food Industry Association and Nielsen I-Q.

This story was produced by New York News Connection.