Global firms and financial institutions with the highest potential for curbing deforestation are largely failing to do so, undermining pledges to protect forests made at the COP26 climate summit in November last year, a report said yesterday.
The Forest 500 analysis by non-profit research group Global Canopy graded 350 companies most responsible for producing, using or trading commodities that drive deforestation, along with the 150 biggest banks, investment firms and pension funds that finance them.
One in three firms assessed had no forest commitments at all, and 72 percent addressed some, but not all of the forest-related commodities in their supply chains.
Even those with commitments keyed to specific commodities — especially soy, beef and leather — “are failing to provide evidence of how they are implementing them,” the report said.
Not one among the 350 companies passed muster on a comprehensive approach to human rights.
“Too few companies recognize the climate risks that are caused by deforestation, with few including their supply chains in their reporting,” Global Canopy executive director Niki Mardas said.
Cargill, Colgate-Palmolive, Nestle Corp, Unilever and PepsiCo were among 15 companies sharing a favorable ranking, while about 60 companies — many from China, Brazil and Argentina — had the lowest score possible in the five-tier rating.
Progress is even more halting among financial companies, which provide more than US$5.5 trillion every year to companies in forest-risk supply chains, the report said.
Ninety-three of the 150 institutions analyzed did not have a deforestation policy covering investments and lending to companies most reliant on the commodities ravaging forests.
Less than two dozen of the banks or investment firms that do have deforestation policies report on progress made.
BNP Paris, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Societe Generale, Standard Chartered and Nordea of Finland were ranked above other financial institutions, but were still found wanting.
“Halting agriculture-driven deforestation to halve emissions and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 is not an option but a necessity for companies credibly committed to net zero,” Nigel Topping, former CEO of climate non-profit We Mean Business, said in a statement.
“There is no pathway to keep 1.5°C within reach without that,” he said.
Nations have embraced the goal of capping global warming at 1.5°C above preindustrial levels.
Deforestation — driven by commodity crops such as palm oil and soy, cattle pasture and timber exploitation — is a triple threat: to climate, communities and the diversity of life on Earth.
If tropical deforestation were a country, it would be the third-biggest source of carbon emissions after China and the US, and ahead of the EU and India.
Over the past two decades, the Amazon basin has lost about 10,000km2 every year, according to assessments based on satellite data.
In Brazil, deforestation rose by 22 percent last year, reaching the highest level in 15 years.
The food, feed and agriculture industries figure hugely in the report.
Companies that produce and sell soy, beef and palm oil make up just more than half those on the Forest 500 list, roughly split between manufacturers, retailers and fast-food chains, on the one hand, and agri-business, on the other.
Many of these companies are brand names known to consumers worldwide, making them vulnerable to shifting expectations.
“European voters and consumers are making this increasingly clear to us: They no longer want to buy products that are responsible for deforestation or forest degradation,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told world leaders at the COP26 summit.
New laws and regulations reflecting these new priorities are coming online.
In Britain, companies are required as of November to ensure there is no illegal deforestation in their supply chains, while a draft EU regulation would, if it becomes law, require corporate due diligence for six key commodities.
“The ranking shows that too many companies are ill-prepared for the regulatory changes coming down the track,” the report said.
SECRET AGREEMENT: China is paying for construction at Ream Naval Base, where dredging would be needed if larger military ships were to dock there, AMTI said Dredgers have been spotted off Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, where China is funding construction work and deeper port facilities would be necessary for the docking of larger military ships, a US think tank said on Friday. The US, which has sought to push back against Beijing’s extensive territorial claims and military expansion in the South China Sea, reiterated its “serious concerns” about China’s construction and military presence at Ream. “These developments threaten US and partner interests, regional security and Cambodia’s sovereignty,” a US Department of State spokesperson said. The report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank said the
Two years ago, Qi Jiayao visited his mother’s hometown of Shaoxing in eastern China. When he tried to speak to his cousin’s children in the local dialect, Qi was surprised. “None of them was able to,” said the 38-year-old linguist, who teaches Mandarin in Mexico. The decline in local dialects among the younger generation has become more apparent in recent years as Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has sought to bolster a uniform Chinese identity. Mandarin is now spoken by more than 80 percent of China’s population, up from 70 percent a decade ago. Last month, China’s State Council promised to
France is to relax some COVID-19 restrictions from early next month in a bet that an outbreak of the Omicron variant of SARS-COV-2 would recede thanks to faster inoculations and plans to shut the unvaccinated out of most social activities. The French government is to lift the obligation to work from home at least three days a week from Feb. 2, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday. It would also remove a requirement to wear a mask outdoors, and scrap attendance limits for sports arenas and cultural venues, Castex said. Infections with the Delta variant are “clearly receding,” while the
DEMOGRAPHIC CRISIS: Beijing is attempting to address its population decline, including considering raising the retirement age and allowing more than two children China’s birthrate has fallen to its lowest level in six decades, barely outnumbering deaths last year despite major government efforts to increase population growth and stave off a demographic crisis. Across China, 10.62 million babies were born last year, a rate of 7.52 per thousand people, the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. In the same period 10.14 million deaths were recorded, a mortality rate of 7.18 per thousand, producing a population growth rate of just 0.34 per 1,000 people. The growth rate is the lowest since 1960, and adds to the findings of May last year’s once-per-decade census, which found