GLOBAL – Agricultural commodity trading giants Cargill, Bunge, and ADM are among 13 food companies that have renewed their pledge to end deforestation and help reduce global warming during the just concluded COP27 climate change summit.

The companies signed the Agricultural Sector Roadmap 1.5°C, which according to the signatories “proposes actions that focus on areas where they will have the greatest impact”.

Coordinated by the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the roadmap aims to strengthen policies and regulations and encourage farmers and ranchers to protect natural resources.

The roadmap which was presented at the COP27 held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt also describes how those companies will collaborate with governments, supply chain members and financial institutions, to try to expand support for the plan’s commitments.

The other signatories to the roadmap are JBS, Marfrig, Amaggi, COFCO International, Golden Agri-Resources, Louis Dreyfus Company, Musim Mas, Olam International, Olam Food Ingredients (OFI), Viterra and Wilmar International.

Before last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, JBS and Cargill were among the companies to sign up to a pledge to end deforestation in the supply chain by 2030.

While this year’s pledge does not bring that date forward, it is said to outline “how these companies will accelerate action within their supply chains to halt commodity-linked deforestation in line with a 1.5°C pathway”.

The “ambition” is for companies that trade or are primary processors of palm oil to achieve no deforestation and no-peat supply chains by 2025.

The Tropical Forest Alliance said: “This roadmap aims to accelerate existing action by the agri-commodity sector on deforestation to align with global climate goals, in a way that contributes to food security, economic development, and farmer livelihoods.”

The recent commitments come against a backdrop of immense pressure on large food and agri-food businesses to do more than they are currently doing to tackle deforestation.

The pressure is understandable as agriculture is one of the major catalysts of climate change, accounting for about 20% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Bank.

In December last year, a report from the investor-backed FAIRR Initiative criticised meat, fish and dairy producers over efforts to tackle methane emissions and deforestation.

The Coller FAIRR Protein Producer Index report concluded that “despite pockets of leadership and innovation, the animal agriculture sector is unprepared for the decade of transition on climate change and risks looking outdated and unattractive”.

FAIRR said only 18% of global meat and dairy producers even track partial methane emissions. And meat giants with a zero-deforestation pledge, such as Brazilian heavyweights JBS and Marfrig Global Foods, “do not have full visibility of the third-party suppliers that are responsible for up to 90% of deforestation from sourcing cattle”.

To ensure progress is achieved, signatories to the roadmap must commit to setting near-term emissions reduction targets based on science, including emissions from land use change, and set a validated target aligned with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol standard.

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