What if we cut down all the forests? intro copy

What if we cut down all the forests?

Click on each bar to see details on how each producer and buyer of palm oil addresses concerns of deforestation in the supply chain. Each bar’s size is relative to the volume (measured in tons) of palm oil produced using different methods of certification: fully traceable (most sustainable), certified green and untraced (least sustainable).

Interactive Assets

Fully/partially traceable palm oil includes Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Identity Preserved, Segregated or Mass Balance. RSPO

Palm Oil Production
Certified green
Fully/partially traceable

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The companies we assessed are the top 50 buyers and top six producers of palm oil among the constituents of the MSCI ACWI Index, as of Feb. 9, 2020. (Note: Golden Agri Resources is not a constituent of the MSCI ACWI Index but is included in our analysis due to its significant production, which is an estimation due to a lack of company disclosure.) The most sustainable option for palm-oil production currently is fully/partially traceable palm oil. Traceability means the location of palm-oil production is identified, and the palm-oil product is segregated from other sources. A less sustainable option is classified as certified green palm oil. This classification is based on a “book and claim” system, where buyers and producers purchase Green Palm certifications to support production of sustainable palm oil, yet do not conduct physical tracking of the certified palm-oil production. The least sustainable option is uncertified/conventional palm oil. This type of palm oil is produced neither with sustainable certification nor via tracked production. Source: Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), company disclosure, MSCI ESG Research LLC.


Intact forests, or those untouched by human activity, are vital to the global carbon cycle, according to the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science at the University of Queensland. Yet every year more forest cover is lost to fire, degradation and deforestation. One of the main culprits of deforestation is unsustainably harvested palm oil. Found in everything from shampoo to candy, palm oil is the most common vegetable oil in the world. To combat palm-oil consumption’s effect on the world’s forests, producers and buyers have adopted zero-deforestation policies for harvesting their palm oil — standards that start to take effect in 2020. But the success of these efforts would depend a more transparent supply chain (or at least a proper certification of supply) — along with proper disclosure by companies, which, as shown in the interactive chart above, is still not forthcoming.


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