In November, at the COP26 on climate in Glasgow, Scotland, governments, businesses and financial institutions pledged, hand on heart, to fight deforestation, responsible for around 15% of greenhouse gas emissions. (GES). Alas, these commitments are undermined by the inaction of large companies and financial institutions in the matter, denounces this Thursday the British NGO Global Canopy, in the latest edition of its annual report, which analyzes the promises of the 350 largest producing companies, using or marketing the six main raw materials responsible for deforestation (palm oil, soybeans, beef, leather, wood and paper) and 150 institutions that finance them.
“Soybean, beef and leather supply chains”
According to this report, a third of the companies studied do not have a policy in place to ensure that their products are not responsible for deforestation. Among them, the French agri-food giants Lactalis (President, Salakis, Galbani, la Laitière…), Savencia (Saint Agur, le Rustique, Etorki, Saint Môret, Tartare…) and Fleury Michon.
In addition, among the companies that have made commitments, “Many fail to provide evidence of how they are implementing them, especially for soy, beef and leather supply chains”, indicates the report. Soy can be a “Hidden ingredient” products such as meat, fish, dairy products or eggs, as it is commonly used in animal feed.
What harm the fight against climate change, since “If deforestation in the tropics were a country, it would be the third source of CO2 emissions in the world after China and the United States”, recalls the report. What also harm biodiversity and the rights of local populations. Or even to the companies themselves, because, according to Global Canopy, “By causing climate damage and loss of biodiversity, by affecting the water supply, deforestation deteriorates the conditions for cultivating agricultural raw materials, which has an impact on production and prices”.
“Binding measures and the duty to account”
For their part, financial institutions inject a total of 5.5 trillion dollars (4.8 trillion euros) into the 350 companies studied, “But do not use this lever to encourage them to change their practices”, notes the report.
Almost three quarters of these institutions have not adopted a policy to avoid the risks of deforestation induced by the companies they finance. These include the French BPCE, Crédit mutuel, CIC and Equitable Holdings.
For Global Canopy, “Only binding measures and the duty to be accountable will make it possible to move the market on the scale necessary”. The NGO calls for legislation. In November, the European Commission published a legislative proposal aimed at “Avoid or minimize the placing on the EU market of products associated with deforestation and forest degradation”. As part of the French presidency of the European Union which began on January 1, France has placed this proposed European law against imported deforestation on the list of its priorities.