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April 15, 2024
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Shoppers Unknowingly Helps Destroy Rainforests.

Shoppers are unknowingly fuelling the destruction of tropical rainforests, as companies produce millions of everyday products linked to deforestation, these companies buy large amounts of products such as soya to feed animals for which swathes of tropical forests are cleared.

While major financial institutions are ignoring tropical deforestation in their public policies, providing high amount of money that risks fuelling the climate and biodiversity crisis, says a new report.

Every six seconds an area of rainforest the size of a football pitch is destroyed to produce commodities such as soya, beef, palm oil, leather, timber and paper, according to environmental organisation Global Canopy.

Destroying these forests is one of the biggest causes of the twin climate and biodiversity crises.

The charity’s annual Forest 500 Report looked at 350 companies worldwide that produce, trade or use the largest amounts of those products, and their lenders, and ranked them by their relevant policies.

It found that 107 companies whose products use meat, fish, dairy and eggs failed to recognise their links to deforestation through the soya they bought for animal feed.

Almost 80 per cent of the world’s soya crops are fed to livestock in the meat and dairy industries, experts have estimated. Overall, a third of the companies driving trade in these commodities have made no public promises to avoid deforestation, the study said.

By contrast in U.K, companies that have published a deforestation policy for the commodities they use include Unilever, Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer.

Global Canopy also examined the policies of the financial institutions financing the big brands through bonds, loans and shareholdings worth $5.5 trillion (£4 trillion). And it found 95 top banks and lenders had not published any policies to ensure the companies were not adding to deforestation.

The Executive Director of Global Canopy, Niki Mardas said: “There is no solution to climate change without a solution to deforestation, yet a great majority of the world’s largest financial institutions are looking the other way on this vital issue.

“Some are making big announcements on climate change, while failing even to have a deforestation policy in place. “This doesn’t add up, and it sends a terrible message to the market. Strong policies are a basic first step, setting clear expectations for the companies they finance, and demonstrating a strategic approach to the climate and nature crisis.”

In Africa a paper presented by Peter Umunay at the Yale University, recounts how a growing number of companies, and organizations have made commitments to eliminate deforestation driven by production of commodities such as soya, beef, pulp and timber, and palm oil.

Applying a “deforestation-free” approach in a highly forested region in Africa has the potential to clash with national economic development goals, or to enhance them.

The paper notes potential measures that could help reconcile global deforestation-free commitments with these goals.

1. Regionally relevant deforestation-free definitions, metrics, and approaches developed by local stakeholders, with a question over the degree to which sovereign governments should be involved in developing these, so far as the international commitments by private sector actors are voluntary in nature.

2. Policy and governance reforms related to land use planning, rural tenure and forest protection that would enable implementation of corporate deforestation-free policies.

3.Harmonised monitoring reporting and verification systems.

The paper presents relevant policy and context in Gabon, and associated challenges of implementing deforestation-free commitments in a high forest cover developing country.

Deforestation and land use change are major contributors of damaging greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It says about 23 per cent of global human-caused carbon dioxide emissions come from agriculture, forestry and other land uses, and land use change, such as clearing forests to make way for farms, drives these emissions.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity has previously reported that changing land and sea use is the biggest factor behind the biodiversity crisis.

In the 2014 New York Declaration on Forests, governments and companies pledged to remove deforestation from their supply chains by 2020. But since then, average tropical forest loss has accelerated by 44 per cent, Climate Focus says, with an area larger than the UK lost each year, mostly because of agricultural expansion.

In a new YouGov survey for WWF, more than two-thirds of 68 per cent of people supported setting a target date in UK law to eradicate all deforestation from supply chains, with 4 per cent opposing the idea.

More than three-quarters of people (77 per cent) said they did not want products they buy to contribute to deforestation abroad.

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