Sustainability consulting group Quantis, in conjunction with a pre-competitive consortium of over 40 private companies, NGOs, governments and scientific institutions, has released the Land Use Change Guidance: Accounting for Emissions in the Supply Chain. The guidance — which is now entering a pilot phase — is designed to support companies in accounting for the climate change impacts of their efforts to address deforestation, sustainable forests, agriculture and other types of land use.
“Organizations are pressured to take immediate action for the sustainable management of their supply chain,” said Jon Dettling, US Director of Quantis, “yet industry lacked a streamlined approach to accurately account for these emissions, set reduction targets grounded in science and communicate ongoing efforts. That is what the Guidance set out to change. Together, we’re entering a new era of accounting for land use, land use changes and forestry.”
Forests, which cover 30 percent of our land, are important carbon sinks and provide vital resources for both wildlife and humans. Yet the exploitation of these natural resources — which releases substantial greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) — contributes significantly to climate change. According to the World Bank development indicators, the world has lost 1.3 million square kilometers of forest since 1990, with forests in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa disproportionately affected. This loss impacts water cycles, biodiversity and soil erosion, which could ultimately jeopardize arable land and our capacity to feed a growing population.
Reducing deforestation and other unsustainable land use practices is imperative and could help capture as much as a sixth of the carbon necessary to reach global climate targets, according to the UN-endorsed Bonn agreement on deforestation. Corporations, particularly those with vested interests in forest resources and rely heavily on agriculture and forestry, stand to gain considerably by reducing impacts, a move which would also positively affect climate. As these companies set objectives to align with science-based goals, a formal methodology is needed to guide them towards embedding land use-generated emissions in their corporate and product footprints.
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It was this need that spurred Quantis to organize this Guidance initiative, with the end goal of developing a methodology that consolidates, aligns and builds upon preexisting references on the issue to deliver a set of recommendations and detailed technical procedures. The resulting 14 key recommendations — which were developed through stakeholder dialogue and collaboration — offer a step-by-step approach for companies to measure and track their progress towards reducing or eliminating GHG emissions from land-based supply chains.
“This work from Quantis and partners is filling a critical gap in GHG accounting for the corporate sector, which is particularly important to advance private sector leadership on addressing climate change. WWF values Quantis’ science-based approach to this complex topic to ensure that robust carbon accounting is guiding decisions and supporting and complementing public targets as we navigate below 2° pathways. This methodology also allows companies who have been making progress on their deforestation-free commitments crosswalk those to their GHG emissions commitments,” said Martha Stevenson, Forest Strategy and Research Director for World Wildlife Fund.
To ensure that the Guidance is as accurate and applicable as possible, Quantis is issuing a call for companies to participate in pilot programs to identify potential gaps and offer recommendations to refine the methodology and facilitate alignment. The key findings from the pilot phase will serve as the cornerstone for the preparation of the Guidance’s public release in 2018.
Initiative partners include Barry Callebaut, Braskem, Danone, Ferrero, General Mills, L’Oréal, Lenzing, LVMH, Mars, Mondelēz International, NCASI, PepsiCo, Philip Morris International, Pirelli, Tetra Pak and Yara. Non-profits, consultancies, governmental bodies and research institutes such as Ceres, Gold Standard, Rainforest Alliance, South Pole Group, The Sustainability Consortium, WWF and others also contributed to the creation of the Guidance.
“We made an ambitious commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions across our value chain by 28 percent by 2025,” said Jerry Lynch, Chief Sustainability Officer at General Mills. “Having consistent measurement and guidance on this critical area will allow us to better track progress towards our goals.”