Palm oil companies have the strongest no-deforestation commitments in place while beef companies have the weakest, Eco Business reported from new research by UK-based non-profit organisation Global Canopy.

However, a third of commodity firms still have no plans to halt deforestation despite commitments made at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), according to the Forest 500 report published on 13 January.

Global Canopy tracked the policies of the 350 most influential companies and 500 financial institutions linked to deforestation in their supply chains and investments, Eco Business wrote on 14 January.

Although last year’s COP26 negotiations had failed to reach a consensus on phasing out fossil fuels, one positive outcome of the climate talks had been a commitment by world leaders to end deforestation by 2030, the report said.

However, the Forest 500 report found that most major companies that produced, bought and used forest-risk products were not prepared for regulations to halt and reverse deforestation.

“Last year saw unprecedented political action as more than 140 governments recognised the urgent need to protect forests, yet most companies and financial institutions with the greatest ability to halt deforestation are doing little or nothing,” Global Canopy executive director Niki Mardas said in a statement.

“As major consumer governments start to translate these commitments into hard and fast legislation, businesses which have not taken deforestation seriously are woefully unprepared and face real risks.”

The report warned that companies were not prepared for changing regulations, with new laws in the UK and proposals in the European Union requiring companies to ensure that imported goods were not linked to forest clearing.

One third of these companies do not have no-deforestation commitments in place for any of the forest-risk commodities they are exposed to through their operations or supply chains, according to the report.

The report found that only 28% of Forest 500 firms had a deforestation commitment for all of the commodities they produced, bought and used, including beef, leather, paper, palm oil, timber and soya.

The report also found that commodity-linked companies were struggling to implement no-deforestation commitments.

A total of 40 companies did not report on progress they had made on their deforestation commitments for the commodities they had commitments for, according to the report.

However, companies were much more likely to report on their progress in palm oil supply chains, the report said, with beef and leather the least likely.