Most companies linked to key commodities driving deforestation have little or no policies aimed at tackling the problem, according to a new report.
These firms are undermining global action on the climate crisis and also risk harming their own businesses activities by not doing more, the report said.
They could also end up being ill-prepared for new regulation against deforestation - a key part of global greenhouse gas emissions - without taking more action to tackle it, the report by Global Canopy said.
More than 140 world leaders at the Cop26 summit last November vowed to “work collectively to halt and reverse” the destruction of forests by the end of the decade.
The new Forest 500 report looked at 350 companies and 150 financial instutions that were assessed to have the greatest influence on deforestation in their commodity supply chains.
This can include firms involved in the production, use, trade and sale of the commodities driving the demand for deforestation, such as palm oil, soy, beef, leather and timber.
The report - published on Thursday - found one third of these companies considered to have the most influence over deforestation had no commitments to tackle the problem at all.
Nearly three quarters did not have a deforestation commitment for all the forest-risk commodities in their supply chain, it said.
“Far too many the companies that are most exposed to deforestation are still not doing enough,” Global Canopy, a group working for a transition to a deforestation-free economy, said.
The report also said deforestation was a threat to their own business activities, as it exacerbated climate impacts and affected water supplies, which affect growing conditions for commodity crops.
Nigel Topping, the high level champion for climate action at Cop26, said: “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 in order to fulfil their science based commitments.”
He added: “Companies that interact with the food system across the value chain need to address deforestation to safeguard their future business and make a difference in protecting forests, and wildlife and the communities that depend on them, contributing to the system shift towards a nature-positive future.”
In November, another report linked dozens of major fashion brands to deforestation in the Amazon rainforest by complex global supply chains involving leather production.
In the same month, the European Union proposed new requirements for companies to prove global supply chains were not contributing to the destruction of forests.
Also in November, the UK announced new rules to stop British businesses from using commodities linked to illegal deforestation.
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