Chinese Companies Named and Shamed on List of Deforestation ‘Powerbrokers’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Foshan Saturday Shoes , headquartered in southern China, might not be a Fortune 500 company. But on Wednesday, it and 29 other Chinese companies landed on a different kind of powerhouse list.

Launched by research group the Global Canopy Programme, the so-called “Forest 500” list aims to chart out the 500 companies, countries and investors that play the biggest role in what they term the “global deforestation economy.” Together, the group said, those 500 control the global supply chains of commodities such as timber, palm oil and beef that together account for more than $100 billion in trade.

It’s not just appetite for exotic timbers or plain old plywood that’s landed China a particularly prominent role in that ranking, said the Global Canopy Programme’s Mario Rautner. From demand for soybeans to land-intensive cattle and their sundry byproducts, the country is one of the most important driving forces helping raze trees and clear land overseas, he said.

Foshan Saturday Shoes scored a 1 out of a 0-5 ranking measuring adherence to various sustainability initiatives and reporting and transparency, among other factors, with 0 being the lowest score possible. Chinese dairy giant Mengniu also scored a 1, as did food processing company COFCO.  Mengniu and COFCO didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. A representative for Foshan Saturday Shoes said he didn’t see any connection the company had to deforestation and wasn’t in a position to comment on it.

The list aims to evaluate how well the ranked companies are doing in the fight against deforestation. Among countries that import heavily from tropical forest regions – accounting for 35% of global leather imports from such areas, for example – China scores conspicuously poorly, he said, behind neighbors such as Japan, India and Korea. The study examined public procurement policies, governance and commitment to reducing deforestation.

Inclusion on the list by itself isn’t necessarily indicative of their contribution to deforestation, Mr. Rautner said. “We’re not saying these 500 are causing deforestation directly,” he said. “They are powerbrokers.” For example, various multinationals’ performance was praised, depending on their participation in initiatives such as the Consumer Goods Forum, a corporate alliance that has resolved to try and achieve zero net deforestation by 2020.

via Chinese Companies Named and Shamed on List of Deforestation ‘Powerbrokers’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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