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 – Almost half of the companies most reliant on the commodities responsible for deforestation, and the financial firms that back them, have no policy to rein it in, a report on Wednesday said.

Analysis by non-profit Global Canopy of 350 companies with the greatest exposure to palm oil, soy, beef, leather, timber and pulp and paper, and 150 banks and asset managers which lend to or invest in them, showed 201, or 40%, had no such policy.

Its annual “Forest 500” report comes just weeks after a global deal was struck by governments to protect biodiversity, and as policymakers in the European Union and Britain plan tougher rules to force companies to do more to stamp deforestation out.

Global Canopy said 100 of the companies had a deforestation commitment in place for all of the commodities to which they were exposed, up from 99 last year, yet only half were checking to ensure the policies were being followed.

A further 109 had no deforestation commitments in place for any of the commodities.

Global Canopy defined such a policy as one where the company states it protects priority forests linked to commodities it uses or finances, or is certified by a credible scheme as being deforestation-free.

While the number of companies pledging to get to net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century had grown five-fold in three years to 145, the lack of action on deforestation was hampering their ability to hit the target, the report said.

“It is now universally accepted that ending tropical deforestation is pivotal to meeting vital global goals on both climate and nature,” said Niki Mardas, executive director of Global Canopy.

“It is remarkable that while a great many of the companies in the Forest 500 have ambitious net zero targets, almost all of those risk missing them because of inaction on deforestation.”

Ninety-two of the financial institutions most exposed to the companies also lacked such a policy, the report said, broadly unchanged from the prior year. – Reuters