Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Climate change and the importance of halting rainforest destruction

Deforestation is one of the biggest contributors to climate change:

Commitments to reduce destruction of forest are not being met - from industries as diverse as palm oil, timber, cattle and soya:


January 4, 2018

There is no chance of hitting targets to tackle deforestation by 2020 at the current rate of progress, according to this year’s Forest 500 analysis.

Forest 500 identifies the most influential players in the supply chains of the four key forest risk commodities: palm oil, timber, cattle and soy. The companies, financial institutions and governments are ranked annually on their commitments to tackle deforestation.

This year marks the halfway point from when Forest 500 began to track progress towards the 2020 deadlines of the New York Declaration on Forests and the Consumer Goods Forum goals, which many of the companies assessed have signed up to.

There are clearly businesses leading the way, including Marks and Spencer, Mars, Unilever and Danone – all of which received top marks for zero-deforestation policies linked to specific commodities.

However in general efforts need to improve dramatically in the next three years, especially in relation to cattle production, said the report’s author Sarah Rogerson. “Our 2017 analysis of company commitments shows that at current rates of policy uptake, the 2020 goals to eliminate commodity driven deforestation will not be met. At current rates, the 250 most influential companies will not have introduced, let alone implemented, policies covering the key forest risk commodities by 2020.”

Only 16% of the Forest 500 companies have an overarching deforestation policy. Nearly 40% of the companies assessed have a forest policy for one, but not all, of the commodities in their supply chains.

Cattle supply chains still have the fewest forest policies – just 15 of the 86 companies assessed have a deforestation policy for production or procurement. There has been “almost no improvement” at all in the last four years, said Rogerson, with some companies “going backwards”. Nike Inc., Burger King, VF Corp’s subsidiary Timberland and Eagle Ottowa have removed deforestation policies for beef or leather procurement from their website over the last three years, she said.

Deforestation targets likely to be missed - Foodservice...

When it comes to palm oil production - which is speeding up forest clearance - its use in biofuels is not helping any reduction in CO2 emissions:
Palm Oil Biofuel
Biofuels needed but some more polluting than fossil fuels, report warns | Environment | The Guardian

But we need rainforests to help the battle against climate change - because they help to cool things down:

Study reveals forests have yet another climate-protection superpower

by Morgan Erickson-Davis on 16 January 2018

Scientists looked at reactive gases emitted by trees and other vegetation, finding they have an overall cooling effect on the atmosphere globally.

As forests are cleared, emissions of these cooling reactive gases are reduced. The researchers estimate the loss of this function this may contribute 14 percent towards deforestation-caused global warming.

The authors write that effective climate policies will require a “robust understanding” of the relationship between land-use change like deforestation and climate, and urge more research be done toward this goal.

As big carbon storehouses, forests have the power to influence the climate. So much so that the protection and expansion of forests is a key part of the Paris Agreement, which seeks to lower greenhouse gas emissions and stave off the worst effects of global warming.

A new study, published last week in Nature Communications, finds forests may have an even bigger cooling effect on climate than we thought. And that without them, the world may be heating up more quickly than expected.

Living vegetation emits gases that can react and combine with other gases in the atmosphere. Some of these, called biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs), affect the formation of other compounds like aerosol, ozone and methane, the presence of which can influence atmospheric temperature.

Study reveals forests have yet another climate-protection superpower

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