Wed, Jun 12, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Forest twice size of UK destroyed in decade for consumer brands: report

The Guardian

An area twice the size of the UK has been destroyed for products such as palm oil and soy over the past decade, according to analysis by Greenpeace International.

In 2010, members of the Consumer Goods Forum, including some of the world’s biggest consumer brands, pledged to eliminate deforestation by next year through the sustainable sourcing of four commodities most linked to forest destruction: soya, palm oil, paper and pulp, and cattle.

However, analysis by Greenpeace International suggests that by the start of next year, an estimated 50 million hectares of forest are likely to have been destroyed in the growing demand for and consumption of agricultural products, in the 10 years since those promises were made.

Its report, Countdown to Extinction, said that since 2010, the area planted with soya in Brazil has increased by 45 percent and palm oil production in Indonesia has risen by 75 percent.

The environmental group accused major brands of failing to meet their commitments and warned that the current situation was “bleak,” advising them to evolve to “prevent climate and ecological breakdown.”

Deforestation releases greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change and destroy important habitats, threatening species with extinction.

Greenpeace says it wrote to more than 50 traders, retailers, producers and consumer companies early this year asking them to demonstrate progress toward eliminating deforestation by disclosing their commodity suppliers.

Only a handful replied and all of those that did disclose the requested information source products from traders or producers involved in forest destruction, it said.

None of the 50 demonstrated “meaningful” action to end deforestation, Greenpeace said, based on assessing their policies and publicly available supply-chain information.

The companies that responded could not provide details on how much soya they were using for animal feed, let alone where it was sourced from, it said.

Soya is the second-most significant driver of global deforestation and 90 percent of soya produced globally is used for animal feed, the report found.

“These companies are destroying our children’s future by driving us towards climate and ecological collapse,” said Anna Jones, global campaign lead for forests at Greenpeace UK. “They’ve wasted a decade on half-measures and in that time vast areas of the natural world have been destroyed. They should be in crisis talks right now, but they’re still trying to grow demand for products that will drive forest destruction even further. Our message to companies is simple: evolve your business to prevent climate and ecological breakdown.”

About 80 percent of global deforestation is caused by agricultural production, which is also the leading cause of habitat destruction, Greenpeace said.

Agricultural consumption, and therefore production, is forecast to rise globally. Meat consumption is set to rise by 76 percent, according to some estimates. Soya production is also predicted to soar by almost 45 percent and palm oil by nearly 60 percent, Food and Agriculture Organisation data showed.

Greenpeace said the onus is on brands that use commodities such as beef, palm oil and soya to show their supply chains are free from deforestation.

“Any company using soya needs to be committed to eliminating deforestation and habitat destruction. They need to be aware of where their products come from,” said Richard George, head of forests at Greenpeace UK. “It’s shocking that 10 years after these companies committed to cutting deforestation, they don’t know how much soya they are using. We are in the middle of a climate crisis. That’s not OK.”

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