Australia’s beef industry, big supermarket chains and the banks that finance them are not well prepared for a new international framework that recommends businesses measure their reliance and impact on nature, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.
ACF cautiously welcomed the first official disclosure recommendations of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), released today in New York, while saying they needed to go much further to address the biodiversity crisis.
TNFD is a voluntary framework to assess and disclose businesses’ exposure to nature-related risks, which come from the way companies affect and rely on nature.
“Australian businesses have been slow to recognise their reliance on nature and set targets to reduce their impact,” said ACF’s Business and Nature campaigner Nat Pelle.
“Half Australia’s GDP directly depends on nature, while indirectly there isn’t any economic activity that does not depend on the health and survival of natural systems.
“This framework should be a much-needed catalyst to focus Australian corporate attention on nature and the risks to companies and society from its ongoing degradation, but business and the Australian government will need to go much further than these recommendations to reverse the nature crisis.
“It is a sign of how far Australia has to go that few Australian businesses are ready to meet the TNFD’s relatively mild recommendations on nature related risk disclosure.
“Arguably the most obvious and well-known driver of nature risk is deforestation, which in Australia is driven to a large degree by the beef industry, yet our supermarkets and banks do not monitor deforestation linked to their products, supply chains or lending.
“A June 2023 investigation by ACF revealed potentially illegal bulldozing of threatened species habitat by a NSW beef producer with connections to a big feedlot company.
“Australia’s big supermarkets are not well prepared to report on their nature impact. While Coles has hired staff to administer the process and Woolworths’ 2023 sustainability report says it has ‘piloted the TNFD framework’ on its beef and salmon products, neither has geolocated its supply chains, so they don’t know exactly where their meat is coming from and what damage might have been done to nature in its production.
“An ACF investigation this year found Australian banks have been financing – and turning a blind eye to – deforestation via their agricultural lending.
“The TNFD is a voluntary framework that provides a useful starting point for companies that have failed to consider nature at all, but Australia urgently needs a mandatory requirement for businesses to report on their impacts and dependencies on nature, as well as the financial risks that flow from them. That goes well beyond these recommendations.
“By falling short of recommending full disclosure of a businesses’ impacts and dependencies on nature, the TNFD doesn’t meet the requirements of the UN’s Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, agreed in December 2022.
“ACF urges Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to confirm that the government will introduce disclosure laws that align with the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.”