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Too little, too late: traders' roadmap to 1.5C lacks ambition

Fourteen traders committed at COP26 “to catalyse further progress on eliminating commodity driven deforestation” and by COP27 to “lay out a shared roadmap for enhanced supply chain action consistent with a 1.5 degrees Celsius pathway”.

During COP27, that roadmap was launched by companies including Bunge, Cargill, and JBS,  but overall, is not ambitious enough to achieve their own stated goal. 

Traders are powerful and important players in forest risk commodity supply chains, often creating a bottleneck where a small number of traders handle the majority of global commodity supply. Collaboration between traders has the potential for huge impact and reduced deforestation in these supply chains - but only if they are ambitious and follow through on their commitments. 

At a time when we need to see climate action accelerated, the 1.5C Roadmap risks lowering the bar for action, undermining some of the traders’ own commitments and progress made in recent years.

We cannot achieve net zero by 2030 without action on deforestation

As the traders recognised in 2021, emissions from deforestation make up 10% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and must be curbed rapidly to limit climate change. 

Crucially, for global warming to be limited to 1.5C, land sector emissions must be at net zero by 2030 at the latest. As a significant proportion of land sector emissions, deforestation and conversion must be eliminated well before this date. Best practice lays out that commodity-driven deforestation and conversion should be eliminated by 2025.

But the trader roadmap does not align with this timeline, it says that “GHG emissions from the food, land use and agriculture sector need to be halved by 2050,” and requires that they publish ”LUC emissions reduction targets” and disclose emissions from LUC by July 2024. 

This means that for land use emissions currently they have only undertaken to set a commitment by 2024. 

Forest 500 assesses 13 of the 14 traders annually on their commitments and action to eliminate deforestation, conversion and human rights abuses from their supply chains. In 2021 just two of the traders (Amaggi and Olam) already had a commitment to reduce land use emissions, and three (Amaggi, JBS, Musim Mas) already report land use emissions - we can’t wait until 2024 for the same disclosure from the rest of the traders. That would leave just one year to eliminate emissions from commodity-driven deforestation and conversion in their supply chains.

The roadmap has missed an opportunity to increase the ambition of the traders and bring them in line with a 1.5C pathway.

Worse, the roadmap is weaker than some of the traders’ own policies, and ignores existing best practice guidance

To achieve 1.5C, both deforestation and conversion driven by commodity production must be eliminated. To do so, clear cut-off dates need to be set. The roadmap recognises both of these points. However, it does not set deadlines for the traders to eliminate conversion, and despite having cut-off dates for cattle and palm oil does not set one for soy. 

On conversion, the roadmap states “Conversion: By the end of 2023 the sector, with input from other stakeholders, will develop definition(s) that can enable the implementation of no-conversion policies”. Definitions and guidance on how to set and implement no-conversion commitments are already available from the Accountability Framework, and indeed five of the traders already have their own commitments to no-conversion in their supply chains.

There is no need for new guidance and definitions to be developed - doing so will only delay action, pushing the 1.5 degree warming target even further out of reach.

Traceability - the only area where the roadmap raises the bar

Traceability is key in ensuring that commodities aren’t linked to tropical deforestation or associated human rights abuses, and the roadmap does set out clear commitments on traceability and transparency. 

Twelve of the traders (out of the 13 assessed by Forest 500) have already made traceability commitments, for at least one of their commodities. Only Viterra is yet to set a commitment, and some of the others need to extend these commitments to all of the forest risk commodities they’re exposed to.

The roadmap is a missed opportunity. For this group to be a beacon of collective action and to lead the way, we need to see more ambition and urgency. 

The roadmap does not currently align the traders with 1.5C as it was intended to do, but rather,  lowers the bar for many of the traders in the group. With 2025 only three years away, we cannot afford weakened action, unnecessary delays, and lower standards. The group should maintain their existing stronger commitments, and work together to implement these without delay. 

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