Deforestation: Firms urged to move from commitment to action

Nearly 90% of businesses realise a commitment to deforestation-free supply chains is the first step in safeguarding against climate-related risks, but there is still much to be done to ensure companies move from commitment to action.

That’s according to the latest report from CDP – Deforestation-free supply chains: From commitments to action – which makes the business case for disclosing exposure to forest-risk produce across the globe.

The main reasons for deforestation are cattle products, palm oil, timber products and soy. Deforestation itself is a major cause of climate change which accounts for 10-15% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – equivalent to the emissions from the entire transport sector. 

Forests have been destroyed at a rate of 13 million hectares per year for the last 10 years and CDP impels businesses to act now to break the link between commodities, deforestation and climate change if the world is to limit global warming to no more than 2°C.

Deforestation risks

The CDP deforestation report looks at the disclosures from 152 companies globally, including Asia Pulp & Paper, Cargill and Unilever, representing a market capitalisation of more than $3trn, who responded to the investor call for transparency on deforestation and forest-risk commodities.

CDP chief executive Paul Simpson said: “Companies that regularly respond to CDP’s forests program are now identifying many more of the opportunities available to them, including securing their supply chain against the risks associated with deforestation and commodity sourcing. This in turn is helping to secure shareholder value.

Different parts of the supply chain are moving at different rates to tackle this issue. What is clear is that leading companies, as identified by CDP, are those that are bringing their supply chains with them on this journey.”

CDP report highlights

– Companies are not consistent in recognising risks and taking action – only 35% of manufacturers identify operational risks associated with soy compared with 83% of producers who see that same risk

– Organisations see opportunities in tackling deforestation

– Businesses failing to act on deforestation risk lagging behind their competitors

In September, the ‘New York Declaration on Forests’ was announced at the UN Climate Summit in New York, which saw a public-private partnership of multinationals, governments, civil society and indigenous peoples pledged to halve the rate of deforestation by 2020 and eradicate the issue completely by 2030.

Read the CDP deforestation report here.

Lois Vallely

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