Zero deforestation?

Posted: 6th November, 2018

The latest analysis of palm oil producers and traders by ZSL’s SPOTT (Sustainability Policy Transparency Toolkit) has found that companies committed to zero-deforestation pledges are failing to monitor production on-the-ground, leaving tropical forests, home to Critically Endangered wildlife such as Sumatran tigers and orangutans, at risk of destruction.

The companies assessed in the report define deforestation in different ways, with more than half of those with zero-deforestation pledges not including all types of forest. Only 26 out of 49 companies expect all their suppliers to match their commitment, and just 24 provide evidence of how they monitor forest cover to ensure that no deforestation is taking place.

Michael Guindon, ZSL Palm Oil Technical Advisor, said: “Without companies monitoring deforestation on the ground and extending their commitments to their entire operations, company pledges to be deforestation-free carry little weight. With just two years remaining to meet 2020 deforestation commitments, palm oil producers – and companies along the entire supply chain – must act now.”

For companies seeking Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification – next week’s annual conference will see members voting on a revised standard with stricter environmental and social criteria. If passed, the new RSPO standard will mean companies must ensure future land clearing does not cause deforestation and damage areas especially rich in carbon, such as peatlands. Tropical peatlands release large amounts of greenhouse gases when they are drained and burnt to clear land for development.

Eugenie Mathieu, Senior SRI Analyst at Aviva Investors, said: ‘A recent report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sounded the alarm about the perilous lack of time we have to halt runaway climate change, with the resulting higher risk of drought, flooding, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. Acting to stop deforestation is one of the most effective steps companies can take to prevent this climate breakdown.’

A summary of the latest SPOTT palm oil assessments can be found here: www.spott.org/palm-oil-summary.  Full details of all 70 palm oil producers and traders assessed on SPOTT can be found here: www.spott.org/palm-oil.

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