You may consider which designer your shoes are made by, but not which country produced the leather that composes them. Leather sourcing has been brought in to sharp focus this week by a Greenpeace study – and has motivated some of the world’s top footwear brands; including Clarks, Adidas, Nike and Timberland, to demand an immediate moratorium on the destruction of the Amazon rainforest by their leather suppliers in Brazil.
Clearing tropical forests for agriculture, which supplies both the meat industry and the fashion industry, is estimated to produce 17 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions – more than is produced by all modes of transport worldwide. A cease to leather sourced from areas of deforestation would dramatically reduce environmental impact – and would protect the area as a natural habitat.
“We can only get an agreement on climate change if it involves Brazil and it involves forestry,” the British energy and climate change secretary Ed Milliband told the Guardian on an unrelated trip to Brazil yesterday. “The Amazon forest is such a beautiful place when it is untouched and then you see these scars on the landscape from the deforestation, bigger and bigger scars.”
“It’s great progress in a very short space of time,” said Greenpeace’s James Turner. “What this does now is really put pressure on the UK food companies. The shoe companies have realised there is a problem and taken action, now it’s up to the supermarkets to follow that lead.”