Americas, Europe, Planet, Climate Change, Natural Capital & The Environment

Greenpeace: consumer companies are failing on deforestation

Responsible Business | Jun 17, 2019

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Consumer goods companies will have destroyed 50 million hectares of forests between 2010 and 2020, the year that their pledge to end deforestation in their supply chains will expire, according to a new report from the campaign group Greenpeace.

AIn 2010, several of the world’s largest consumer goods brands, including Mondelez, Nestlé and Unilever, signed up to a target of zero net deforestation within the palm oil, soy, cattle and pulp and paper supply chains, under the auspices of the Consumer Goods Forum, a trade group.

According to the World Resources Institute, 30 per cent of global forests have been destroyed, with a further 20 per cent degraded, largely as a result of human activity. Clearance of tropical rainforests for agricultural commodities, particularly soy, palm oil and cattle, is responsible for the majority of recent losses. In 2018, the WRI tracked the loss of 12 million hectares of tree cover worldwide.

Halting forest loss is critical, not only to preserve biodiversity and ecosystem services, but to prevent catastrophic climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that there are few paths to limiting global warming to under 2ºC that do not include the cessation of deforestation.

Greenpeace says that, despite companies’ pledges to reduce deforestation in their supply chains, they have failed to stop the wholesale destruction of forests, and many continue to source commodities from traders that have been linked to large-scale destruction of forests. Companies are also resistant to releasing their sourcing information, making it difficult for outside organisations to assess the progress of multinationals’ sustainability initiatives, Greenpeace said.

“These companies are destroying our children’s future by driving us towards climate and ecological collapse. They’ve wasted a decade on half-measures and in that time vast areas of the natural world have been destroyed,” said Anna Jones, Global Project Lead for Forests at Greenpeace UK.

Separately, the WRI announced that more than 80 companies, including Mondelez, Unilever and commodity trading groups Olam, Cargill and Global Agri Resources, have signed up to a new tool, designed by the institute, which helps companies to track the deforestation risks in their agricultural supply chains.

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