Tropical deforestation rates globally were up 10% in 2022, with 4.1m hectares of forest lost, according to Global Forest Watch, the platform managed by the World Resources Institute. Hotspots include the Brazilian Amazon forest and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is despite the pledges from 145 country leaders at the COP26 meetings in Glasgow in late 2021 to halt global deforestation this decade. The WRI says that rather than progressing towards this goal, the planet is more than 1m hectares of annual deforestation behind being on track to achieve this.
The situation in Brazil was particularly discouraging, as the country was responsible for 1.8m hectares of primary forest loss in 2022 - 43% of the total. However, the re-election of more forest-friendly President Lula, replacing the populist Bolsanaro, is hoped to make a difference in the future.
There is some better news in Indonesia and Malaysia. While the former was still home to the fourth highest tropical forest loss, there is a continued downward trend in average deforestation rates in the country. In the period 2020-22 primary forest loss was down 64% compared with 2015-17, meaning that Indonesia has reduced deforestation more than any other country. Rates in Malaysia are also lowering, and this is thanks in part to corporate deforestation commitments, Global Forest Watch says.
UK failing to meet net zero targets, says CCC
The UK is falling rapidly behind in meeting its legally binding emissions goals, according to the UK government’s statutory advisory Climate Change Committee in its annual progress report.
The country has seen some good progress, not least in decarbonising the electricity supply sector, which has contributed to a 46% reduction in the UK’s total annual emissions since 1990. But to meet its Paris accord goals, the UK is committed to a 68% reduction from 1990 levels in 2030. The Climate Change Committee says that to achieve this, annual reductions outside of the electricity supply sector will need to quadruple.
The UK is nearing a general election, which will most likely be in the autumn of 2024, and it’s widely expected that there will be a change of government – but the committee warns that there is not the time to park the necessary progress on climate change that’s required if the UK is to meet its commitments. There is a lack of joined up government, according to the committee, which suggests that the UK’s newly created Department for Energy Security and Net-Zero is not working effectively with other government departments.
Nestlé renews Cavally Forest cocoa regeneration project
Swiss consumer brand giant Nestlé, alongside partners including Earthworm and the government of Cote d’Ivoire, has announced the next phase of a project to protect the Cavally forest, which is adjacent to cocoa production areas in the west of the country. The project has been operating since 2020 and has already reduced deforestation, driven regeneration of 7,000 hectares and reforestation of 1,500 hectares. The project has promoted greater economic resilience for local communities; Nestlé says more than 1,400 people have benefitted financially.
The next three-year phase is designed to further strengthen communities and protect the forest, while also working to improve supply chain traceability and transparency for cocoa and rubber. There will be focus on smallholder farmer productivity and incomes, and protection of the rights of children - for example, by providing easier access to school. A total of 4m Swiss francs will be invested in the project over the coming three years.
ISSB launches new sustainability and climate standards
The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) has published two long awaited new standards covering general sustainability matters and more specific climate disclosures. The new standards consolidate a number of existing standards including those from the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, the International Integrated Reporting Council and CDP’s Climate Disclosure Standards Board.
The ISSB says that through the standards, it has tried to develop an accounting-based language for sustainability reporting. The Global Reporting Initiative has welcomed the new standards, emphasising the distinct yet complementary purposes that the ISSB and GRI standards play.
There has been some recent speculation that the two organisations would merge, but differences in approach have been reported as among the reasons keeping them apart. As reported by EcoBusiness, ISSB is more focused on financial materiality, the impact of sustainability-related issues on a company’s financial position. GRI’s focus is more on impact materiality, a company’s impact on society and the environment. The upcoming EU reporting standards are going to include both approaches in a move towards so-called ‘‘double materiality.’’