A significant and immediate increase in corporate action to address deforestation is needed in order to achieve global climate goals, according to a new report released by the UN-backed Race to Zero.

According to the report, “Why Net Zero Needs Deforestation Now,” deforestation attributable to companies with land-based value chains, particularly in the forest, land and agriculture sectors, is responsible for a significant proportion of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The sectors contribute 22% of global emissions, half of which are driven by deforestation.

While commitments from the forest, land and agriculture sector companies to address their climate impacts have increased – ‘net zero by 2050’ pledges are up 5x over just the past two years – 58% of companies deemed critical to tackling deforestation have yet to set a net zero target.

In a statement accompanying the release of the report, Race to Zero highlighted several companies that have made strong progress in their efforts to address deforestation, including Nestlé, PepsiCo Inc., Unilever, Mars, Colgate-Palmolive, and paper and pulp producer Suzano.

The vast majority of companies in the land-use sectors, however, are at risk of missing emissions reduction targets, however, as even among companies that have set net zero goals, actions to tackle deforestation have lagged, with fewer than 6% of net zero-committed companies assessed as having made strong progress.

Nigel Topping, UN Climate Change High-Level Climate Champion, said:

“This research is a wake-up call. 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 report was generated in partnership with climate and deforestation focused organizations including Global Canopy, Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and the Accountability Framework Initiative (AFI). According to recent findings by AFI, accelerated action on deforestation is urgently needed, with the majority of commodity-driven land clearance required to be halted by 2025, in order to keep to the goal of limiting warming to 1.5ºC alive.

Luiz Amaral, CEO of SBTi, said:

“The impacts of climate change are increasingly devastating, and the forest, land and agriculture sector is one of the most affected – but it is also a significant source of emissions. To keep 1.5°C within reach, tackle food crisis risks and enable the transformation to a global net-zero future, cutting land related emissions is paramount. This means halting deforestation, restoring land and improving agricultural production practices.”

Click here to access the Race to Zero analysis.

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