Why net zero needs zero deforestation now

Publication / 29 Jun 2022

Companies risk failing to deliver on their net zero commitments because they are not doing enough to address deforestation in their supply chains, according to new analysis by the UN Climate Change High-Level Climate Champions.

Drawing on Global Canopy’s Forest 500 data, the new analysis launched today at a high level event at London Climate Action Week, finds that just nine companies in the influential food, land and agriculture sectors are taking adequate steps to address deforestation risks.

This despite the fact that agriculture, forestry and other land use is responsible for 22% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with half of that (11%) from deforestation and land conversion (AR6 IPCC Working Group 3).

The analysis, which is published with Global Canopy, the Science Based Targets initiative, the Accountability Framework initiative and WWF finds that some companies are making progress in ending deforestation, with Nestlé, PepsiCo Inc., Unilever, Mars, Colgate-Palmolive and Brazilian paper and pulp producer Suzano singled out for their 60%+ score on Forest 500.

Progress by the exposed companies is also key if financial institutions are to deliver on the pledge launched at COP26 last year and signed by 33 financial institutions, to eliminate commodity-driven deforestation from their portfolios.

Global Canopy’s Finance Sector Roadmap for eliminating commodity-driven deforestation highlights how the finance sector can work with companies to encourage them to address deforestation-risks.

Commenting, Niki Mardas, Global Canopy’s executive director, said: “Rampant deforestation is a key factor behind the intertwined crises of both climate change and nature loss. It undermines vital foundations that allow communities, economies and the world to not only survive but thrive. Yet far too many of the world’s biggest companies and financial institutions continue to turn a blind eye to their role in driving deforestation. And those with net zero targets will not achieve their goals unless they start taking immediate steps to remove deforestation from their supply chains and investments.”

Mary Schapiro, Head of the Secretariat for the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and Vice Chair of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), added: “The world will not reach net zero by 2050 unless we halt and reverse deforestation within a decade. As financial institutions turn their net-zero pledges into action, a growing number have recognized that corporate progress on eliminating agricultural commodity-driven deforestation is a critical part in delivering on those commitments and will ultimately help us reach a net-zero, nature-positive future.”

Nigel Topping, High Level Climate Action Champion COP26 said: “This research is a wake-up call. Companies need to go further and faster on tackling deforestation in their supply chains, as a core part of delivering on their net-zero commitments if we’re to have any chance of fulfilling the goals of the Paris Agreement and keeping warming to a maximum of 1.5ºC. This is also a huge economic and business opportunity. By protecting and restoring nature we can cut emissions while making businesses, customers and communities around the world more resilient to climate change impacts.”

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