The Land Use Change Guidance: Accounting for GHG Emissions in the Supply Chain

What the Judges Said…

“A large and complex project wrapped around land use. It’s destined to become a go-to reference for many businesses in need of guidance on land use scope 3 emissions.”

Land use changes affect the carbon footprints of companies with agricultural or forestry products in their supply chains. At the same time, businesses are under increased pressure to commit to deforestation-free supply chains and set science-driven goals to cut their carbon imprints. CDP has urged companies to disclose their impacts on deforestation and address a global corporate risk that could amount to $941 billion. In order to do so, businesses need a formal methodology that accounts for their land use-generated emissions.

Quantis initiated the Land Use Change (LUC) guidance to develop a scientifically robust reference that credibly and comparably accounts for land use change. The guidance streamlines existing references and addresses gaps across different types of land use-generated carbon emissions, companies, and commodities where practitioners tended to use broad estimates. Quantis says that this helps accelerate progress on sustainable land use.

The idea for the LUC guidance came from businesses demanding a solid assessment approach to understand how land use-derived greenhouse gas emissions impact corporate and product footprints. In 2016, Quantis launched a pre-competitive consortium around more than 100 participants from 40 committed businesses, advocacy groups, public bodies, and scientific institutions. It included LVMH, L’Oréal, Mondelēz International, Mars, WWF, and TSC.

An initial user guide capped off three rounds of stakeholder feedback. To address remaining debates and create an accurate guidance, Quantis launched a call for corporate pilots to identify potential gaps, refine the methodology, and facilitate alignment. Multiple pilots are under way, focusing on commodities such as palm oil, cocoa, and sugarcane.

The Land Use Change guidance helps businesses set ambitious goals and take action to remove commodity-driven deforestation from their supply chains. The 14 included recommendations walk them through measuring how deforestation contributes to environmental footprints, identifying which commodities and points of origin concentrate the most land use-related GHG emissions, and tracking progress on their corporate or product GHG footprints. The recommendations also show companies how to compare corporate footprints in relation to land use change impacts, allocate land use change-related GHG emissions to specific companies or products, integrate direct and indirect land use changes, and account for carbon sequestration in products and forests.

Following these steps gives businesses a sound and cost-effective approach to bold climate action, Quantis says. Although the guidance currently focuses on carbon, it has the potential to address corporate accounting on biodiversity and other environmental factors, the company says. Jerry Lynch, chief sustainability officer for General Mills, says that the company made a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across their value chain by 28% by 2025. Talking about the LUC guidance, he said, “Having consistent measurement and guidance on this critical area will allow us to better track progress towards our goals.”

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