Climate Change

29 Jun 2022

Curb Deforestation or You Won’t Hit Net-Zero Targets, U.N. Group Tells Firms

29 Jun 2022  by   

An aerial view shows a river and a deforested plot of the Amazon near Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil August 14, 2020. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino/File Photo

Companies critical to reducing tropical deforestation have no chance of meeting their greenhouse gas emission targets unless they make much faster progress on ending deforestation in their supply chains, a new study found on Wednesday.

Deforestation from the forest, land and agricultural industries contributes around 11% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Getting companies in these sectors to curb emissions is deemed crucial to limiting global warming.

Dozens of these companies have recently committed to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 or sooner, or they have committed to alignment with keeping global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

But to reach net zero, a deforestation-free supply chain is a "scientific necessity", according to a new analysis commissioned by the UN-backed Race to Zero.

Of nearly 150 firms, just nine are making strong progress on deforestation, the study found. Deforestation accounts for half the total emissions from firms in these industries.

The analysis indicates that more than 90% of the companies risk missing their net-zero targets.

Wednesday's study did not name any company failing to act. But it said some firms had made tackling deforestation a key part of their net-zero transition plans. These include consumer goods giants Nestlé SA, PepsiCo Inc, Unilever, Mars and Colgate-Palmolive, and Brazilian paper and pulp producer Suzano.

"This research is a wake-up call," Nigel Topping, High Level Climate Action Champion COP26, said in a statement.

"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."

The analysis, which was commissioned in partnership with Global Canopy, the Science Based Targets initiative and the Accountability Framework Initiative, also found that 58% of firms critical for addressing deforestation have yet to even make a net-zero commitment.


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