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Greenpeace says agriculture to blitz forests the size of Spain

At least 50 million hectares of forest — an area equal to the size of Spain — is likely to have been destroyed worldwide by agriculture in the decade through to the start of 2020, according to Greenpeace International.

Cattle, soy, palm oil and other agricultural production remains the leading cause of forest destruction even after promises were made in 2010 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Mexico to eliminate deforestation by 2020 through responsible sourcing of these agricultural products, Greenpeace said on Tuesday.

In response to Greenpeace, the Paris-based Consumer Goods Forum, which represents about 400 retailers, manufacturers and service providers around the world, said in a statement that since 2010, it has worked with members, governments, and civil societies to accelerate the shift toward sustainable sourcing. However, it has discovered that “the forces driving deforestation are more complex than almost any stakeholder realized in 2010.”

The consumer group said that sourcing certified sustainable commodities is not sufficient to eliminate deforestation on its own and has instead been working to develop a more effective strategy to combat deforestation that’ll be shared during the UN Climate Week in September.

Drivers of Deforestation

Agricultural production has boomed around the world.

Ivory Coast’s cocoa footprint has grown by 80% since 2010, palm oil production in Indonesia is up by 75% and soy-planted areas in Brazil rose by 45%, Greenpeace said, citing data from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. The worst is yet to come as meat consumption is forecast to rise 76% by 2050 and soy and palm production will increase by 45% and 60%, respectively, the campaign group said.

About 80% of global deforestation is the result of agriculture, which is also the top cause of habitat destruction, Greenpeace said. Over-consumption of meat and dairy is the driver yet companies are not aware of the volume or origin of animal feed in their meat and dairy supply chains, Greenpeace said. Some 90% of soy produced worldwide is used for animal feed, the group said.

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